Can your little one identify local birds and plants just like a seasoned zoologist or botanist? They may be city kids, but at heart they have an appreciation for nature that can only be fueled by time spent outdoors. Well, with Spring finally starting to take off, longer days, and warmer weather, you have every excuse to feed your little Darwins’ need for nature. We’ve got the scoop on a fun outdoor walk that’s well worth a quick car ride for a few hours to escape the city. Keep your binoculars at the ready, because this wildlife walk is teeming with everything from songbirds to salamanders.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is just south of Portland and the perfect place for your kids to sharpen their skills at spotting birds, mammals, and other little critters. The main nature trail is super easy to walk, even with the littlest tots. Take your time at wildlife viewing areas where you can sit on a bench and play I-Spy. The trail ends with a spectacular view from a wetland observation deck. For the really ambitious, three miles of additional walking trails open up starting May 1. These gravel trails are just as easy to walk as the main trail and worth the extra time spent exploring.
Don’t miss the Wildlife Center for fun interactive displays for kids. Check the white board for a daily list of birds and mammals spotted by visitors and volunteers. You can even get tips on where to find them. Make sure to have the little ones take a peek through the scope stationed at the windows for an up-close look at waterfowl chilling out.
Good to Know
Bring binoculars. Seeing a Great Horned Owl perched in a tree or a nutria on the riverbank is even more memorable for the kiddos when the view is magnified.
There’s a covered area with picnic tables and a sand pit where kids can play, so pack a lunch.
Leave your four-legged friends at home since pets are not allowed on the trail.
Check out the calendar for upcoming family-friendly events, including twilight walks and the annual Bird Festival.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
19255 SW Pacific Highway
Does your family have a favorite nature walk? Share with us in the comments.
Photos by Jane Gauger