Easy access to some of the nation’s most spectacular scenery often puts hiking near the top of the agenda for many Portland visitors. Having children in tow shouldn’t put you off. Here are some of our favorite hiking spots with trails under 4 miles (6 km) in length, in or close to the city and bursting with natural beauty.
Hike Around a Garden
Just a stone’s throw from the zoo in Washington Park lies Hoyt Arboretum. Stop off at the Visitor Center for a map and plan your own route along the many trails around the park. Great signage makes it hard to get lost, and markers on the trees will help improve your ability to identify the many species of trees showcased here.
A haven of meticulously maintained, tranquil beauty, proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden offers meandering streams, intimate walkways and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood.
Hoyt Arboretum is Portland’s “living museum of trees” — and is home to 2,300 species of trees and shrubs, as well as 12 miles (19.3 km) of hiking trails in Washington Park near downtown Portland.
Mount Tabor Park, a century-old public space, is known for its open-air reservoirs, forested hiking trails, sunset picnics, epic city views, its annual Adult Soapbox Derby, and, yes, its volcanic cinder cone.
Lower Macleay Trail
Starting at the parking lot on Northwest Upshur Street and 29th Avenue, just a few minutes north of the popular hangouts of Northwest 23rd, the Lower Macleay Trail takes hikers up along Balch Creek into the southeastern corner of Forest Park. Little legs may favor turning around at the Stone House (a great photo opportunity) or else looping back along Wildwood Trail. Those with more stamina could plow on to the Audubon Society or even as far as Pittock Mansion.
Mt. Tabor Park
Mount Tabor, an extinct volcano located just east of the Hawthorne neighborhood, contains many trails running around and up and down its steep slopes. Great city views await you at the summit, and the park also boasts two playgrounds in case you need a rest but your children don’t! See a trail map.
The closest waterfall to the city is also one of the prettiest. The looping trail to the upper falls is under 2.5 miles in length; when you return, the bowl of the lower falls awaits with its truly spectacular torrent of water. The falls are one of the most beautiful anywhere, far less trafficked than the popular Multnomah Falls further into the Gorge and only 30 minutes from downtown by car. See a trail description.
Know Before You Go
Before you head out, check with USFS for the most up-to-date information on alerts, conditions and trail closures.
Tryon Creek State Park
Located just a few minutes south of the city center by car (and still in Portland), Tryon Creek State Park offers one of the most beautiful hiking opportunities in the region. The many trails make it simple to plan a route suitable for your party, and whatever direction you take, you are sure to be surprised by the richness of the forest.
The Corn Maize on Sauvie Island
The Corn Maize, located on Sauvie Island north of Portland, offers visitors eight acres of physical and mental challenges in a cornfield.
Apple Picking Near Portland
Freshly-picked Pacific Northwest apples are a local favorite, and many Portland-area orchards allow visitors to pluck the fruit right off the branch.
Swimming Holes Near Portland
Stay cool all summer long at these serene swimming spots, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest — and all less than an hour away from Portland.
Located near downtown Portland in Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo is home to more than 2,600 animals.
Oaks Amusement Park
In Southeast Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood, Oaks Amusement Park has been providing families with carnival thrills and family fun since 1905.
Kid-Friendly Regional Attractions
Trips outside the city promise all-ages entertainment. Here are four must-see attractions within two hours of downtown Portland.
Chapman Swift Watch
Every September, spectators gather to see the world’s largest roost of Vaux’s swifts swarm and spiral into the chimney of a Northwest Portland school.
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