Stop and Smell the Wildflowers on These Family-Friendly Hikes

Spring is here! Time to get outside and feel the sunshine. Peep the season’s wildflower blooms with these five kid-friendly hikes.

Tom McCall Preserve

Courtesy of Mitch Maxson, The Nature Conservancy in Oregon

You likely associate the Columbia River Gorge with churning waterfalls and steep hikes winding around ferns and firs. But just 20 more minutes east from Hood River, and you’ll find yourself in Tom McCall Preserve, 231 acres of unique topography with views for miles. We recommend you opt for the Rowena Plateau Trail, just west of the viewpoint. The trail is mostly flat, which means you can let your little one run ahead quite aways and still remain within eyesight. The full loop is 2.1 miles, but you’ll get enough sights in the first twenty minutes that turning back early won’t ruin anyone’s afternoon. Look for arrowleaf balsamroots and lupines through mid-May. Pro tip: Pets aren’t allowed here, so leave the four-legged family members at home. On your way back to I-80, stop in Mosier at The Wagon Social Club for ice cream sandwiches, mocktails, and cornhole – and to use the restroom, as there aren’t any at the trailhead. 

Powell Butte Nature Park

Courtesy of the City of Portland

Powell Butte Nature Park’s entrance is inauspiciously tucked into an East Portland neighborhood, which makes the payoff of its summit that much more rewarding. And don’t let the word “summit” throw you off — there’s an accessible trail leading from the visitor center (with restrooms, interactive educational display, and water fountains) to the top of the butte, easy enough for the littlest hiking boots. Look for serviceberries, lupines, goldenrods, and Oregon sunshine. If it’s a clear day, check out what my preschooler calls the “mountain map” — a display pointing out the peaks you can see from the butte, including Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. 


Cooper Mountain Nature Park

Courtesy of Keri Logan

With only 3.5 miles of trails spanning its 230 acres, visitors to Cooper Mountain Nature Park can expect pristine, wide-open prairies. Set out on a scavenger hunt for Oregon irises, camas, asters, lupines, and rare checker lilies — and reward a successful hike with a picnic at one of the area’s most popular nature playgrounds. The Little Prairie Loop is less than a mile, but I highly recommend continuing down Blacktail Way and then cutting across the Cooper Mountain Loop for the best views. There are a few stretches that can get sunny and hot, so be sure to bring water and snacks to power up. Pro tip: Pets aren’t allowed here, so leave the four-legged family members at home.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Courtesy of Friends of Tryon Creek

If you’re on the lookout for some of Portland’s most classic flowers, Tryon Creek State Natural Area in Southwest Portland is the place to go. Western trilliums are so ubiquitous here that there’s a Trillium Festival each spring to kick off the season (late February through mid-May). Start with the aptly named “Ruth Pennington Trillium Trail,” an ADA accessible trail just over half a mile long. With a total of 8 miles of trails through the park, you have many more to choose from if you want to continue your visit after a stop at the Nature Center (with bathrooms and gift shop) — just be aware that several have steep inclines and can get quite muddy after rain.

Camassia Nature Preserve

Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy in Oregon

The common camas is another particularly special plant in the Portland area, with a long history in the region as an important trade item for Native tribes. At Camassia Nature Preserve in West Linn, its namesake flower can be found blooming in April and May. Park at the end of Alder or Walnut Street, at the south border of the preserve. The Camassia Preserve Loop is less than half a mile, but there are two other smaller loops you can add onto your visit if those little legs are still kicking. The trail is narrow, unpaved, and unsuitable for strollers or hand-holding, and there are no bathrooms at the trailhead. Pro tip: Pets aren’t allowed here, so leave the four-legged family members at home. After your hike, dip down into Oregon City to ride the municipal elevator, see Willamette Falls, and enjoy snacks and beverages at Oregon City Brewing Company


Cant get enough wildflowers? The Northwest Wildflowers Map is a helpful tool for finding flowers at peak bloom.

For more spring blooms locations, hit up these Portland-area spots!

Robin Lanehurst
Scroll to Top