While we know there are tons of things to love about Portland, one of our favorite things is its easy access to nature. Whether you’re enjoying a sunset from a hilltop or lounging in a city river, the great outdoors is always just a hop, skip and a bridge crossing away. Let’s make the most of these sunny days (because the rain will be back before you know it) with a family hike. Our picks for the best hikes near Portland for kids include everything from simple forest strolls to winding rock climbs to waterfalls you’ll want to find right away. Grab your water bottles and load the day pack with snacks—these summer hikes are all short, fun, easy and come with great payoffs.
When it comes to the best hikes near Portland for kids, you don't have to look further than Tryon Creek. Just 15 minutes from downtown, eight miles of trails can be found in this 660-acre park. Summertime means lots of woodland creatures for your kids to spot, and the shade you'll find walking beneath the dense forest trees gives everyone a bit of a reprieve from the sun. We love the paved trails that allow folks of all abilities to enjoy the great outdoors, and make is easy for parents who are looking for a great place to roll with their strollers. If easy is what you're after, it doesn't get any easier than the Trillium Trail that starts at the visitor's center. Add mileage to your outing when you break off along the Old Fir Trail.
11321 S. Terwilliger Blvd.
Wapato Greenway, Sauvie Island
One of Portland’s favorite playgrounds is Sauvie’s Island, full of berry picking and beach-going in summer and pumpkin patches in fall. And, you’ll find a great year-round hike at Wapato Greenway, which features a wetland lake, meadows, grassland, and oak trees. Kids will love hunting for snakes (harmless garter varieties), frogs, ducks, and more on the trails. The loop around the pond is 2.2 miles total and is great for kids.
18846 N.W. Sauvie Island Rd.
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Mt. Tabor Park
One of the best urban explorations is on the slopes of a dormant volcano. Start at the trailhead by S.E. 64th and Lincoln, near the reservoirs. Then wander at will through the paths and roads. Dirt trails, paved paths, stairs and more wind around the cinder cone volcano, until you arrive at the very top, with fabulous views of downtown Portland and the mountain. A playground is on the north side-access it from Salmon Street or Yamhill, or make your way there by foot.
6220 S.E. Salmon St.
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Situated just outside of Tualatin, Cooper Mountain offers 3.5 miles of kid-friendly trails in a stunning natural area. You’ll get views of the distant Chehalem Mountains while enjoying trails under the canopy of white oaks. The nature park playground offers a play area inspired with natural materials like boulders, tree trunks, a sand pit and more. From the playground, the Little Prairie Loop makes for a great short outing, or extend it up to three miles by connecting to the Cooper Mountain Loop.
18895 S.W. Kemmer Rd.
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Oxbow Regional Park
The gentle current of the Sandy River flows through Oxbow Park, offering great swimming, fishing or floating. It’s a popular place in summer, but the 12 miles of hiking trails will allow you to beat the crowds. Two big loops wander through the 1,000 acres, with the southern part being the more developed campsites and day-use area, and the northern being less well known. Head to the visitor center for park info and maps. Whichever route you choose, you’re likely to see river bends, meadows, old-growth forests, wildlife and more.
Good to know: Parking is $5 per car. Check the Free Metro Parking Days to save some money (hint: the next one is Aug. 18).
3010 S.E. Oxbow Pkwy.
This easy, mile-long trail is beautiful in the summer. It's hard to deny its place as one of the best hikes near Portland for kids when you're walking through old-growth forests with Mt. Hood peeking in and out of view. A strict no-dog policy means that while you can’t take your pooch, you can enjoy seeing plenty of wildlife along the trail. Water breaks at each art bench along the way will delight the kids on this hike. The small park is located in Happy Valley, and isn't very busy even in summer, so it’s a nice out-of-the-way place to explore.
S.E. Boyscout Lodge Rd. & S.E. 147th Ave.
Happy Valley, OR
While everyone else heads to Multnomah Falls, you and the kids can take the trail less traveled—it leads to Latourell Falls. Depending on what the kids are up for, you've got two options here. Take a short walk under the old bridge to get to the falls and take some great photos, if you're short on time. But if the family is up to a bit of a challenge, the two-mile loop hike is the way to go. There are some rocky areas you need to cross (as well as four bridges) to get to the upper falls, but if everyone is up for it, the payoff at the end is totally worth the work.
Historic Columbia River Highway
Best hikes near Portland for kids should always include a giant extinct volcano, right? When it's in the city limits, even better. Powell Butte is a beautiful place for a hike, with wooded paths, meadows and perfect views of surrounding peaks on clear days. Starting at the small visitor center kiosk it’s an easy trek to the top on the paved path. There you’ll find a viewing platform pointing out the nine different mountains encircling you, including Mount Jefferson, Adams, St. Helens, and even Rainier. From there, you can follow the hiking trails around the back of the park into the forests, or turn around and wind through the grassy meadows instead. The summit is a 0.7-mile hike, and the whole loop is just under three miles.
16160 Powell Blvd.
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Beacon Rock State Park
If you’re not set on ending at a waterfall, one of the best hikes near Portland for kids in the Gorge is on the Washington side at Beacon Rock. The unique monolith stands tall above the Columbia and offers amazing views of the river and Gorge. The hike is a fun one, too, with lots of twists and turns, stairsteps, railings and a finish that feels like you’re on top of the world. If your little one is likely to bolt, this may not be the hike to try. But for older kids who can stay on a trail (and have some stamina), they’ll love the twisty climb to the top, 850-feet high. At a mile each way, it’s very manageable, even with the elevation gain. Plus, this hike is just a 50-minute drive from Portland along Highway 14 in Washington.
Good to know: You'll need a Washington state Discover Pass to hike here. It's $12 per day or $35 for the annual pass.
Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge
The Wildlife Refuge is a great place to catch the migration of birds in the spring and fall, but in the summer you can still see plenty of wildlife along a beautiful wetland area. In the northern Carty Unit, the Oaks to Wetlands Trail is an easy 2.4-mile loop that passes through oaks, near ponds and around the wetlands. The best sight along the way is the authentic Cedar Plankhouse, a modern interpretation of a traditional Chinookan one. In the summers it’s open most weekends with many special events. The refuge is about 30 minutes north of Portland, near Ridgefield, Washington.
Good to know: The entrance fee here is $3.
1071 S. Hillhurst Rd.
—Allison Sutcliffe & Annette Benedetti