Fresh air and evergreens are at the heart of these winter hikes near Portland even the littlest hikers can handle
The holiday season is here, excitement is high, and cabin fever is setting in. Don’t worry—time outdoors can save us. If everyone is bouncing off the walls at your house, pack up the raincoats, hats, and warm boots, and get them outside to burn off some energy. We’ve rounded up some of the best hikes and family-friendly strolls that are excellent year-round, so even in winter you can get out and enjoy. Our tip? Don’t forget the thermos of hot cocoa.
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1. Scouters Mountain Nature Park
A comfortable and easy winter hike near Portland, this one is tucked away in southeast Portland (Happy Valley). Scouters Mountain is a great escape for a bit of fresh air anytime of year. You’ll play peek-a-boo with Mt. Hood in the distance as you slip in and out of the forest on this extinct lava dome. Some of the trees are over 100 years old. The loop trail is about a mile long, making it easy for all ages.
11300 S.E. 147th Ave.
Happy Valley, OR
2. Wildwood Recreation Site
Just off Highway 26 on the way up to Mt. Hood you can find the perfect little area to explore winter at Wildwood Recreation Site. Over six miles of trails wind around the picturesque Salmon River—check out the Cascade Streamwatch Trail, a paved 3/4-mile loop that takes you to a fish viewing area below stream level. Will you see any fish on a snowy winter day? Time to find out!
Good to Know: There is a $5 day-use pass fee, available at automated stations on-site.
65670 E. Hwy. 26
3. Latourell Falls Loop
Just a half hour outside of Portland is one of the best waterfall hikes for kids in the Gorge—Latourell Falls. The hike is a 2.4-mile loop with minimal elevation changes. Winter means a slipperier, muddier trail, but the payoff is a stunning 224-foot high waterfall plunging into a rocky pool. The hike goes on to Upper Latourell Falls, which has two-tiers. Without leaves on the trees, you'll get a better view of the falls in winter. Bridges, splashy falls, and plenty of viewpoints make this a fun and popular winter hike near Portland.
I-84 E to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil), then follow signs to the falls
Columbia Gorge, OR
4. Tualatin Hills National Wildlife Refuge
Attention, wildlife lovers! If you are looking for a dream Portland winter hike with kids, this refuge just outside of the city is one of the country's best examples of urban national wildlife refuge. It's also a great destination for a bit of fresh air and a chance to see some birds and wildlife. The 2-mile out-and-back Year Round Trail is open throughout winter (as the name implies). The colder season makes a great time to visit, as the area is on the Pacific Flyway and sees plenty of migratory action for waterfowl, shorebirds, and more. What will you discover as you wind through the habitat to peer out of the Wetland Observation Deck?
19255 S.W. Pacific Hwy.
5. Cooper Mountain Nature Park
A beautifully managed nature park on the edge of Beaverton, Cooper Mountain offers 3.5 miles of trails that meander throughout habitats and vistas. The larger loop can be cut into smaller sections for shorter hikes, like the Cooper Mountain Loop or the shortest Little Prairie Loop. You'll catch views of the distant Chehalem Mountains and stroll through a prairie filled with majestic white oaks, which have dotted the meadows of Oregon for hundreds of years. In winter, lichen covers the trees, while red-tailed hawks and other raptors swoop through the air over the meadows. The leafless trees makes it easier to spot them, but they're still quick. Be sure to make some time for the nature play area with plenty of boulders and logs for jumping.
18892 S.W. Kemmer Rd.
6. Hoyt Arboretum
A 190-acre wonderland of trees tucked away in Washington Park has been a favorite Portland winter hike for families forever. The 12 miles of trails are all named for notable sights you’ll see along the way, like the Maple Trail. In winter, be sure to check out the the majestic Douglas Firs all around, the Winter Garden for special blooms, and the Holly Trail for the bright red berries of its namesake. The Visitor Center is open daily and has a fun kids activity guide, or you can get a trail map online before heading over.
Good to Know: Access to this park is free, but there is a fee to park.
4000 S.W. Fairview Blvd.
7. Tryon Creek State Natural Area
Tryon Creek is a beautiful natural area covering 650 acres with over eight miles of hiking trails. You’ll feel miles away from any civilization during this winter hike near Portland, even though it’s only about 15 minutes from downtown. Winter walks through Tryon mean a lush and wet trek through the large evergreens, but the well maintained trails make it a breeze. Kids will love counting bridges and watching the water stream under. The Visitor Center hosts educational activities and events often for this popular nature area.
11321 S. Terwilliger Blvd.
8. Tamanawas Falls
If your crew is up for an adventure, pack the snow gear and head up Mt. Hood to Tamanawas Falls, about a 90 minute drive from Portland. In the winter you’ll want to be prepared for a very snowy road on the mountain, but these falls are popular enough that crews will still plow the parking lot. In dry weather it’s a relatively easy 3.5-mile round trip hike, with a stunning 150-foot waterfall. If it’s a snowy season the hike could be a lot more challenging, so plan accordingly. Even if you don’t make it all the way to the falls this time, the hike through a snowy old forest is scenery enough. Add a thermos of hot chocolate for a required treat.
Good to Know: A $5 Recreation Pass is required at the trailhead.
Mt Hood, OR