Winter is a majestic time of year when you and your family can get outside and explore the beauty of nature. Don’t let the cooler temperatures stop you from taking in the grandeur that Portland has to offer. Bundle up and head out on a family hike, full of winter wonder and breathtaking views. These hiking trails are open year-round and have a singular beauty that you can only see in winter. So put on your boots and get going! 

Hoyt Arboretum

Hoyt Arboretum is an excellent destination for family hikes. Located only two miles from downtown Portland, it features over 2,000 different species of trees spread across easily accessible trails. In total, the Hoyt Arboretum has over twelve miles of hiking trails to discover, all kid-friendly. The visitor center offers maps and guides for identifying different plants along the way, making it a fun and educational experience the entire family is sure to enjoy. 

Mt. Tabor Park

Located in southeast Portland, Mt. Tabor Park is visually stunning and a favorite destination for hikers. The extinct volcano beneath creates open-air reservoirs scattered along the landscape. There are many different trails to choose from, all winding their way to the summit, which offers fantastic city views. Atop the summit, you’ll find two playgrounds, so your little ones can get out any extra energy they have from the hike up and make a few friends along the way. If your family is feeling ambitious, you can take the stairs located at S.E. 69th and Yamhill all the way to the top.  

Macleay Park

Located on the edge of Forest Park, Macleay boasts 5,100 acres of wooded area, making for incredible hikes. Macleay Park is accessible through public transport in true Portland style, which drops your family off at the trailhead. Begin on lower Macleay and work your way up 600 feet to the top, where you’re greeted with a stunning panoramic view of the city. Along the hike to the top, fun and interesting buildings dot the trail, including the “Witches Castle,” the Portland Audubon Society, and Pittock mansion. Why not take a break and step inside for a history lesson along the way?

Multnomah Falls

Located only thirty minutes from Portland is Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s highest and arguably most famous waterfall. Your family can walk along the Benson Bridge as they view the majestic 620-foot falls, roaring down only a stone’s throw away. During the deep winter, the falls partially freeze over, creating gorgeous ice formations as unique as a snowflake. You can take the hike up to the top of the falls, where a view that spans hundreds of miles awaits. It’s an excellent activity for older kids, but younger ones or inexperienced hikers may find the trail a little too difficult to traverse. As one of Oregon’s most visited tourist destinations, Multnomah Falls isn’t the quietest area to hike, so if you’re searching for peaceful and serene nature trails, this may not be the best place for you. However, if you don’t mind the possibility of crowds, it’s a must-see hiking destination that is fun for the entire family. 

Salmon River Trail

The Salmon River Trail is within Mount Hood National Forest and is about an hour east of Portland. Here, old-growth forests tower stately above you as you make your way through the tree-lined trails that lead you deep into the beautiful natural area. Ferns, Douglas Firs, and eddies add to the grandeur of the trail’s landscape. Trails ranging from one to eight miles offer various options for traversing, allowing you to choose how long you’d like your hike to last. Although shorter lengths are available, the trails are best suited for older families or ones who have a decent amount of hiking experience. Your family will love seeing the ice-covered plants that surround you, creating a true winter wonderland.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

A short 25 minutes drive from downtown Portland lies Tualatin River National Refuge, a 1,856-acre wetland sanctuary. Home to many different forms of wildlife, adventure awaits your family along the almost four miles of graded gravel trail. During winter, it is a common occurrence to see more than 50,000 waterfowl along your hike, taking to the skies in flocks, the air echoing with their calls. Your children will never forget the time they spend identifying the different birds and wildlife they spot along the way. With trails that are accessible for all ages, it’s an excellent choice for families with young children or the elderly who enjoy spending their time in nature. 

Portland Japanese Garden 

The Portland Japanese Garden offers excellent hiking for families with young children. Take your little ones along as you stroll through peaceful walkways lined with twisting streams. The kid-friendly trails provide views of Mount Hood and feature abundant plant life. Various evergreen plants offer deep green contrast to the grayness of a winter day. The Portland Japanese Gardens are the perfect spot to get outside in nature without going far away from home. 

Wintertime doesn’t mean you and your family can’t explore the great outdoors and go for a hike in the beauty of nature. Put on your hiking boots and hit the trails at one of these family-friendly hiking destinations located within a short distance of Portland. You can choose the plant-friendly Hoyt Arboretum or Portland Japanese Gardens. For a day trip, how about Multnomah Falls, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, or Salmon River Trail. Or, if you’d like to stay a little closer to home, Macleay and Mt. Tabor Park are within miles of Portland and accessible by public transport. Whichever trail you choose, your family is sure to create fun memories they will cherish for years to come! 

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