Need to get some more nature in that kid? Let’s face it — the rewards of walking through the trees all day can be lost on little ones. We’ve found a climb short enough for kids, challenging enough for parents, and teaming with diversions. Neahkanie Mountain is just a short car ride away from Portland and offers up outdoor fun for even the kids who think they hate hiking. At only 2.7 miles round trip, you’ll be at the mountain top by midday and home for dinner.
Driving to the cost may sound daunting, but this coastal hike is only about an hour and a half away. From Portland, head west on 26 for 74 miles to the Hwy 101 Junction. Take Hwy 101 South 14 miles. The Neahkanie Mountain Trailhead is just a couple miles south of Oswald West State Park. The turnoff to the trailhead is marked with both a trailhead sign and a large green sign for Neahkanie Mountain. Watch for the turn off to the left just after Sunset Drive. If you get to the town of Manzanita, you’ve passed it.
– Wear sunscreen. The hike is only partially shaded, so you’ll be spending almost half your time in the sun. We recommend hats and sunglasses as well.
– Wear layers that are easy to stow. If the sun is shining, the top of the mountain is hot.
– Wear sturdy shoes and for kids we recommended the lace-less variety. The trail is uneven in places with roots and rocks to watch out for the whole way.
In Your Pack…
– Plenty of snacks or lunch to eat at the top
– Plastic bag for trash, toilet paper, and matches. (Yes, burn your toilet paper or pack it out. LNT or Leave No Trace!! There are no outhouses at the trailhead.)
Passing the Climb
The 1,170 foot ascent from trailhead to peak has seven viewpoints along the way. Count them on your way up to keep little feet moving and celebrate small wins as you go. Other distractions to pass the time include wildlife, plants and gigantic trees with roots running across many parts of the trail. But for kids over five, motivation might be better accessed through pondering the whereabouts of buried treasure. We’re totally serious! And it’s never been found. Look it up before you go.
You might see deer, woodpecker, Raven, Garter Snakes, butterflies, beetles, and spiders. At the top, scale a solid ladder of rock to sit right on the mountain top. There is room for 4-6 people to sit comfortably away from the steep side of the mountain and see out to what looks like the edge of the earth. The peak faces south, providing an aerial view of Neahkanie Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem Bay and the Nehalem River winding through low lying countryside below more mountain peaks than most kids under five will be able to count. In other words, the view is awesome!
Tell us about you and your family’s adventures on this hike in the comments section below! We would also love to hear your insider tips!
— Amber Dennis (Thanks for the pics, Amber!)