Toddlers to teens will love the smooth ride of the 3-mile Salmon Creek Greenway Trail just 20 minutes outside of Portland.

Credit: Miranda Rake

Whether they’re cruising on balance bikes or zooming on a mountain bike, a visit to this trail promises a lovely nature-based reset for everyone. Opened in 1996, this paved trail follows Vancouver’s Salmon Creek through 850 acres of forest, meadows and wetlands. Park at the lot near Klineline Pond and go from there. Wind your way along the paved trail as it follows Salmon Creek through the surrounding preserved natural wetlands. As you glide along, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, as deer, raccoons, geese and ducks abound. 

Cycling is probably the best way to enjoy this thoughtfully built trail, but you can also walk it and the relatively fresh paving makes it wheelchair-friendly, too. Park benches dot the route — offering opportunities to pause and rest while you soak in the lush, watery, forested greenway — as do nesting boxes for wildlife, and official interpretive areas, intended to help visitors get the most out of their outing. (My 4-year-old son loved hiding in shrubs and pretending to be a wild creature!) Animal lovers and bird watchers, from amateurs to experts, will want to bring binoculars to fully take in all of the sightings and glimpses waiting to be caught in this carefully tended habitat.

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While exploring a wetland area, we were treated to the sight of a turtle sunning itself on a fallen log. PRO TIP: Even with breaks, the entire trail is a bit long for the littlest legs to handle completely on foot, so if you’d like to do the full loop you may want to bring a carrier or stroller. At the 1.5 mile mark, there is a junction that makes a great place to turn around. There is an option for more ambitious families to take a longer, 5-mile loop.

Plan to finish your adventure back where you started! Back at Klineline Pond, kid-friendly play spaces and plenty of picnic tables make for a lovely finishing line. We enjoyed watching people fish for their supper, a new and fascinating sight for my 4-year-old. 

If trail riding isn’t your thing, it’s worth a visit just to come spend the day at this peaceful urban pond. Open for fishing and swimming, a small sandy beach sits near a playground — don’t miss the splash pad! — and is a popular spot to cool off on warm days. PRO TIP: Bring buckets and shovels and nab a picnic table in the shade to really make a day of it. 

Even without venturing onto the Salmon Creek trail, you’re likely to see herons, ducks and even turtles sunning themselves on fallen logs around the pond. Lifejackets are usually available to rent here, though COVID-19 has impacted the availability of some of the Greenway’s usual amenities. 

There’s a fee for parking, but it’s inexpensive — just $3 for the day. Dogs are allowed on the trail, as long as they are leashed.

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Love this post? Check out our list of Kid-Friendly Bike Paths.

Credit: Miranda Rake
Miranda Rake

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