The hills around Portland provide numerous easy and accessible hiking trails for families searching for a fun weekend activity. These range from paved pathways to more rugged trails along rivers, lakes, and nature preserves. The best part is that you don’t have to go far to find the perfect trek for the hikers in your family. Here are five of our favorites:
Mt. Tabor Park
Mt. Tabor is located on the east side of Portland on an extinct volcano that provides enough elevation for fantastic city views and miles of walking paths and hiking trails. The park is 197 acres and includes three large open reservoirs built between 1894 and 1911. Start at the lower reservoir for a good challenge and walk up the 100-step staircase to the upper reservoir. It is a real leg workout, and you are rewarded with gorgeous views at the top. There is a playground in the park for kids who get tired of walking and need a play break. Dogs are allowed in the park on a leash.
This 8-mile-long wooded oasis in Northwest Portland boasts over 70 miles of trails. You can access the park from several locations, including the Pittock mansion parking lot and McCleay Park. Once you are on the trail system, look for trail markers as you go and plan how long you want to hike. Trails intersect throughout the park, and you could go farther than you want to go if you don’t pay attention. That can be a real challenge when you have little hikers in your group, and many of the trails are not stroller-friendly. Check out the Forest Park Conservancy website for more park details. Dogs are also allowed in Forest Park if they are on a leash.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
If your family loves bird watching or spotting wildlife, check out the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge just south of Portland in Sherwood. The refuge sits on the floodplain of the Tualatin River and is the home to more than 200 species of birds and numerous reptiles, mammals, and fish. The paths at the refuge are made from compact gravel and are mostly flat for an easy family walk. There are two main trails, a year-round nature trail that is a mile long and a 3-mile-long seasonal path open May 1 through September 30th that follows the outer edge of the refuge on service roads. The Refuge also has a wonderful visitors center which is open Tuesday through Sunday for more information about the trails and wildlife in the area.
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Located on the edge of Beaverton, the Cooper Mountain Nature Park is a 230-acre protected area with 3.5 miles of nature trails. The Park overlooks the Tualatin River Valley and has paths that wind through meadows and forests. There is a nature play structure at the parking lot, which can be a good incentive for kids to walk the paths. To protect the wildlife in this park, dogs are not allowed, even on leashes.
Tryon Creek State Nature Area
Oregon’s only state park within a metropolitan area, Tryon Creek, has 8 miles of trails to explore and wander in the middle of Lake Oswego. The paths cross over 8 bridges in the park and even extend onto a boardwalk in a wetland area. It is easy to forget you are in a city when you see the variety of wildlife and follow the meandering creek. There is a .3-mile section that is accessible for all abilities, but the other trails, while maintained year-round, can get muddy in winter and are hiking trails, not ideal for a stroller. There is also a nature center in the park entrance off of Terwilliger Blvd with nature exhibits and park information.
These are just a few examples of the wonderful trails and pathways in and around Portland. With this list alone, you could visit each park multiple times and still not explore every trail. You will be surprised how secluded these spots can feel even though they are near this giant urban center. Happy hiking!
Mary Weggeland grew up in Alaska but has called Oregon home for the last ten years. She lives in Sherwood with her husband and three kids. When she is not writing, Mary enjoys reading fiction, making crafts, and baking desserts. She also loves road trips and exploring Oregon with her family.