The spring rains have brought flowers, and there’s no better time to get outside and enjoy the wildflowers than right now! From early trilliums to camas lilies, tadpoles to bluebirds, spring brings all sorts of exploration possibilities. The below hikes are all short and sweet and are great for toddlers or small kids just getting used to the trails. There’s plenty of boardwalks and bridges to explore and lots of things to stop and look at.Grab your rain boots and read on for more!
photo: Multnomah County Library via flicker
One of Portland’s favorite playgrounds is Sauvie’s Island, full of berry picking and beach-going in summer and pumpkin patches in fall. Early spring might be too soon for berries, but you’ll find a great hike at Wapato Greenway, which features a wetland lake, meadows, grassland, and oak trees. Kids will love hunting for snakes (harmless garter varieties!), frogs, ducks, and more on the trails. The loop around the pond is 2.2 miles total and is great for kids.
18846 N.W. Sauvie Island Road
Hike around a giant extinct volcano at this park in the city limits! Powell Butte is a beautiful place for a hike, with wooded paths, meadows, and perfect views of surrounding peaks on clear days. Starting at the small visitor center kiosk it’s an easy trek to the top on the paved path. There you’ll find a viewing platform pointing out the nine different mountains encircling you, including Mount Jefferson, Adams, St. Helens, and even Rainier. From there, you can follow the hiking trails around the back of the park into the forests or turn around and wind through the grassy meadows instead. The summit is a 0.7 mile hike, and the whole loop is about 2.9 miles. Spring sees wildflowers galore on the hills, and with them comes the buzz of bees and flutter of butterflies.
Powell Butte Nature Park
16160 Powell Blvd.
photo: keri logan via flickr
Trilliums rule the trails at Tryon Creek, nestled in the hills of Southwest Portland. Over 8 miles of hiking trails wind through the woods, over creeks and between the trees. The Nature Center has exhibits on local wildlife and offer a busy calendar full of guided walks and nature programs, like the toddler-friendly Story and Strolls. Read a nature-themed book like owls, then head out to the woods to look for new friends! This year the Center is under construction but the programs will still continue– check the calendar online for specifics.
11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd
It’s not a long trail or hike, but for a quick afternoon out in nature, it’s a perfect escape. Start on the bluffs at the small parking lot, then wander down the bluff– turn right to head around the pond for the 2.3 mile loop. The path is well kept, with bridges, boardwalks, and viewing platforms that extend over the wetlands. In the small loop at Tadpole Pond kids will find plenty of places to look for the little creatures along with salamanders and birds.
The park is near the Springwater Corridor, Sellwood Riverfront Park, and Oaks Bottom Amusement Park if you need to extend your day of fun at all.
SE Sellwood Blvd & SE 7th Ave.
photo: keri logan via flickr
You want to time this trail right– in April through June it comes alive with wildflowers of all colors like trillium, the namesake camassia, and more. It’s a short trail and easy to follow, meaning kids can lead the way with confidence through the forests and meadows.
The rocky ridges here were created by an ancient flood that left giant boulders behind– learn all about the unique geology from volunteers on guided hikes and at signposts along the trail. You’ll come across creeks and ponds hiding frogs and newts, oak and aspen trees welcoming woodpeckers and bluebirds, and even a radio tower with an osprey nest! The loop is a pleasant 1.5 miles with much of it on a boardwalk.
4800 Walnut St.
West Linn, OR
Try to count how many different trees you can find in Hoyt Arboretum, we dare you! With 2300 species and over 12 miles of trails, it’s quite the challenge. Whether you can count that high or not, you’ll find plenty of easy hikes on the hills near the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum. There’s something for every time of year– in spring, find the 0.3 mile Magnolia Trail between Wildwood and Oak Trails for a great view of the flowering trees. There’s also cherry blossoms, dogwood flowers, and Japanese snow-bells. Don’t forget to look down for early trilliums!
Start your visit in the parking lot (it’s a pay lot, avoid the hunt and cost by taking the Max or even biking), then head to the Visitor’s Center for a kid’s map and scavenger hunt flyer with fun activities.
Hoyt Arboretum Visitor’s Center
4000 SW Fairview Blvd.