From the classics to new favorites, these trails are perfect for young riders!
Springwater Corridor. Whether you’re running, riding, or rolling, the Springwater Corridor is a wonderful, flat, and looooong trail (40 miles in all) that’s great for beginner riders. (Just be conscious of bike traffic—commuters can get aggressive.) While the trail goes all the way out to Boring, Oregon, we are especially fond of the stretch between the Sellwood and Tilikum bridges. You’ll get a chance to ride by Oaks Park, see the salmon-friendly habitat along Oaks Bottom, and maybe even see a deer or two. From the Sellwood Bridge to where there is a break in the trail by Ross Island Sand and Gravel is about 3.5 miles.
Banks-Vernonia State Trail. This trail has the honor of being the state’s first rail to trail. Where train tracks used to be, you’ll now find a multi-use trail that stretches for 21 miles of easy, tree-lined riding. Our favorite part of this trail is the bridges—along the trail you will discover no less than 13 old bridges to ride over. We also love how out-of-the way this trail feels, even though it’s only 26 miles west of Portland.
East Bank Esplanade. If you’re comfortable with navigating foot and bike traffic, this is a great option for young bikers. You’ll get great views of the city and the Willamette, along with all those bridges that give Portland its Bridge City nickname. For a bigger adventure, make a loop of it—a loop from the Steel Bridge to Hawthorne Bridge is about 3 miles. (My son still talks about the time we were lucky enough to be on the Steel Bridge when it lifted for a boat to pass underneath.) Or add on a bit more by going over Tilikum Crossing—since this bridge is closed to car traffic, it feels pretty special to get to cross it.
North Clackamas Trolley Trail. The six-mile path, which has paved and gravel sections, stretches from Milwaukie to Gladstone and runs along an old streetcar line that began operating in 1893! The path is generally not too crowded, relatively flat, and features lots of cool installation art along the way. If you’re lucky, you’ll also be treated to some of the wildlife that makes its home along the trail, including beavers, herons, and even opossums. Head out on a Sunday over the summer and plan to start or stop at Milwaukie Riverfront Park — there’s a farmers market just across the street there that runs from 9:30 to 2 beginning in May.
Tualatin River Greenway Trail. The paths of this trail are nice and wide, great for newbie bike riders. The scenery is lovely, meandering through trees, by the Tualatin River and creeks, and past wetlands. Ride slowly and take breaks so that you can explore the interactive interpretive elements. As you travel the west section, you’ll find signs and art that guide you on a “walk through time” as you explore the geographic transition from the last Ice Age through to the present. (The cast fossils along the way are super cool, and kid approved.) This segment is ¾ of a mile, but the entire trail is about 4.5 miles.
Willamette River Greenway. This trail travels along the west side of the waterfront, with the easiest stretch to bike being from the Sellwood Bridge to the Old Spaghetti Factory. (The trail stops at the Spaghetti Factory, but picks up again to connect to the downtown waterfront around the Hawthorne Bridge.) Along the way, you’ll be treated to lots of views of the river, a cast-iron beaver always dressed for the season, and birds aplenty. There are generally more joggers than bikers on this trail, so it’s a good option for kids who are just learning to ride and are scared of other bikers.
Vancouver’s Salmon Greenway Trail. Toddlers to teens will love the smooth ride of the 3-mile Salmon Creek Greenway Trail just 20 minutes outside of Portland. 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.
Rock Creek Trail. This trail is home to multiple playgrounds, including Pirate Park, one of our Top 10 Destination Playgrounds. The stretch by Bethany Lake is very long and flat, perfect for new learners.
Readers also recommend:
Fanno Creek Trail
Ainsworth Elementary Playground
Capitol Hill Elementary
Champoeg State Heritage Area Loop
Reeds Crossing Greenway
Blue Lake Regional Park
Commonwealth Lake Park
Holly Farm Park
Commonwealth Lake Park (short easy loop)
Marine Drive Trail