Portland bursts into color when spring rolls around. It’s easily one of the most dazzling times of year for outdoorsy PNW-loving families. There’s no better way to take in nature than with a long, easy seasonal hike on the trails that run through and nearby Portland. We’ve rounded up the best spring hikes for families with kiddos of all ages an abilities. Read on to find out more.
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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. Early spring might be too soon for berries, but you’ll find a great 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 Road
This spot is a true hidden gem and an easy, close-in option that the whole family can enjoy. This 1-mile loop behind the Reed College campus, through Reed Canyon and around Reed Lake, is a jaw-dropping find that will have you feeling like you are wandering through a private oasis. The unpaved trail is open to the public, and even when school is in session, it’s a lesser-known hike that usually remains uncrowded. Spot the ducks in the lake, tramp across the footbridge, and admire the the spring blooms and baby animals floating and scampering about.
Insider tip: Parking at Reed is free, and the closest to the trail head is the East lot off Woodstock. Or, take the bus and extend the adventure!
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Hike around a giant extinct volcano at this park in the city limits! 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 about 2.9 miles. Spring sees wildflowers galore on the hills, and with them comes the buzz of bees and flutter of butterflies.
Powell Butte Nature Park
16160 Powell Blvd.
Oak Bottoms Wildlife Refuge
It’s not a long trail or hike, but for a quick afternoon out in nature, it’s a perfect escape. Start on the bluffs at the small parking lot, then wander down the bluff-- turn right to head around the pond for the 2.3 mile loop. The path is well kept, with bridges, boardwalks, and viewing platforms that extend over the wetlands. In the small loop at Tadpole Pond kids will find plenty of places to look for the little creatures along with salamanders and birds.
The park is near the Springwater Corridor, Sellwood Riverfront Park, and Oaks Bottom Amusement Park if you need to extend your day of fun at all.
SE Sellwood Blvd & SE 7th Ave.
Camassia Nature Trail
You want to time this trail right-- in April through June it comes alive with wildflowers of all colors like trillium, the namesake Camassia, and more. It’s a short trail and easy to follow, meaning kids can lead the way with confidence through the forests and meadows.
The rocky ridges here were created by an ancient flood that left giant boulders behind-- learn all about the unique geology from volunteers on guided hikes and at signposts along the trail. You’ll come across creeks and ponds hiding frogs and newts, oak and aspen trees welcoming woodpeckers and bluebirds, and even a radio tower with an osprey nest! The loop is a pleasant 1.5 miles with much of it on a boardwalk.
4800 Walnut St.
West Linn, OR
Hoyt Arboretum Trails
Try to count how many different trees you can find in Hoyt Arboretum, we dare you! With 2300 species and over 12 miles of trails, it’s quite the challenge. Whether you can count that high or not, you’ll find plenty of easy hikes on the hills near the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum. There’s something for every time of year-- in spring, find the 0.3 mile Magnolia Trail between Wildwood and Oak Trails for a great view of the flowering trees. There’s also cherry blossoms, dogwood flowers, and Japanese snow-bells. Don’t forget to look down for early trilliums!
Start your visit in the parking lot (it’s a pay lot, avoid the hunt and cost by taking the Max or even biking), then head to the trails. The visitor's center is closed while Shelter in Place rules are enacted.
Hoyt Arboretum Visitor’s Center
4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Situated just outside of Tualatin, Cooper Mountain offers 3 ½ 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 SW Kemmer Rd
Mt. Tabor Park
One of the best urban explorations is on the slopes of a dormant volcano. Start at the trailhead by SE 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. A playground is on the north side-access it from Salmon St or Yamhill, or make your way there by foot.
6220 SE Salmon St.