In Portland, we get outside no matter the weather. And the fall—even though it tends to get a bit wet—is no exception. Going for a hike is a great option for restless kids. Hiking gets kids moving, lets them see some beautiful fall colors and wildlife, and often isn’t even that wet thanks to some amazing tree cover.
Here are some of our favorite places to get hiking in Portland with kids.
Cathedral Park. There’s no better spot for a photo op (or just a gorgeous view) than this iconic park in North Portland. Enjoy a fall color stroll and then swing by the whimsical new coffee shop Wonderwood Springs for a well earned treat. N Edison Street and Pittsburg Avenue.
Tryon Creek. Although it’s only about a ten minute drive from downtown Portland, once you walk a few feet into Tryon Creek you feel as if you’re in the middle of the deep woods. This is a great place for kids to hike. There’s a well-equipped visitor center with maps and restrooms. The trails themselves are wide and well-maintained with gorgeous towering firs and scenic bridges. You may even spot a few horses on the horse trail. 11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd
Forest Park. What better place to experience the fall colors than in Forest Park? Although there are near limitless options for hiking in the 5200-acre park, two great family-friendly options are the 1.7-mile Hardesty Trail loop, beginning at the NW Springville Road trailhead, or the Cannon Trail, a .7 out-and-back jaunt.
Laurelhurst Park. For younger kids, Laurelhurst Park is just the ticket. Cross the street from the playground for a short little hike around the duck pond. There’s a paved path, along with ample opportunity to spot ducks, frogs and turtles. SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd & Stark St.
Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden. Just across the street from Reed is the lovely Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden. While spring is when the flowers are in full bloom, this garden is gorgeous no matter the weather. You can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to a full afternoon here, wandering around the paved trails, looking at the different kinds of ducks, and admiring the little waterfall. Note there is a $5 admission fee for adults, but no admission is charged on Mondays. Kids 10 and under are always free. 5801 SE 28th
Hoyt Arboretum. Hoyt Arboretum is a wonderful place to see fall color and learn a lot about the trees around us in the Pacific Northwest. Download the kids’ activity map to find routes perfect for families, or pick up a free copy at the Visitor’s Center. They also have a one-mile route suitable for strollers. Along all the routes, you’ll see many different examples of trees, from magnolias to redwoods. 4000 SW Fairview Blvd
Pittock Mansion. If you’re feeling adventurous at Hoyt Arboretum, you can walk to Pittock Mansion for even more beautiful fall colors. This hike will take you across a colorful pedestrian bridge over W Burnside. If your kids still have little legs, don’t worry — there’s plenty of parking at Pittock, too. Access to the historic house is free for children under 6, and between $10.50-$14.50 for older children and adults. But walking the grounds is free and absolutely beautiful. Go on a clear day for views of the city. 3229 NW Pittock Drive.
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. In addition to the well-known paved path along Springwater Corridor, there’s a lovely mile-ish trail that stretches from Sellwood Park to the tadpole pond about half a mile down the hill from the parking lot on Milwaukie and SE Mitchell. If you make it a loop, you’ll end up going 3.1 miles, with about half of it along the streets of Sellwood and Westmoreland. Along the trail, you’ll see wooden bridges, views of purple loosestrife in the summer, and maybe even a glimpse of a deer or two. SE Milwaukie and SE Mitchell St
Kelley Point Park. There’s a lot to love about this park—it’s where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers converge, so you get some scenic marine views and even a bit of beach to explore. You are also near some industrial areas, giving you some pretty close-up views of container ships—a big hit for transportation enthusiasts. There are lots of little trails, both paved and unpaved, throughout the 104-acre park, allowing you to cobble together an hour or so of low-key hiking and walking. N. Marine Dr. and Lombard St
Leach Botanical Garden. Beautiful trails meander along the scenic Johnson Creek, while tall trees make you feel outside of Portland even while you’re in the thick of it. The garden is super welcoming of families, and even has downloadable scavenger hunt maps you can take along with you. Clearly labeled plants allow you to learn more about the plants you are seeing. 6704 SE 122nd Ave.
Hopkins Demonstration Forest. This one is technically out of Portland (it’s in Oregon City), but it’s a great spot to trample through the forest and explore with kids. The forest is very kid-friendly, with wide paths, towering trees, a small creek, and a good variety of ecosystems to explore. It is also a good place to learn about sustainable forestry techniques through well-placed signs, kiosks and printed materials. 16750 S Brockway Rd., Oregon City.
Portland Japanese Garden. Fall at the Japanese Garden is so spectacular, they even have a special section of their website dedicated to Fall Color Updates. Children under 6 get free admission, everyone else will pay between $13.95-$19.95. If you think you’ll go often, consider a membership! 611 SW Kingston Ave.
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