Winter in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t rob families of any outdoor fun—you’ll just want to pack the raincoats, hats and warm boots! The fresh air can do wonders for a cooped up family. We’ve rounded up some of the best nearby winter hikes and even some short walks near Portland that will help kids and families enjoy the outdoors even in the middle of winter. Add a thermos of hot chocolate to your pack for a required winter treat, and read on for more!

Scouters Mountain Nature Park

You may have come across this winter hike while you were Google searching "Kid-friendly hikes near me". A comfortable and easy hike tucked away in southeast Portland (Happy Valley), Scouters Mountain is a great escape for a bit of fresh air anytime of year. You’ll play peekaboo with Mt. Hood in the distance as you slip in and out of the forest on this extinct lava dome. Some of the trees are over 100 years old! The loop trail is about a mile long, making it easy for all ages. Restrooms are closed at this time.

Free
11300 SE 147th Ave
Happy Valley, OR
Online: oregonmetro.gov/parks/scouters-mountain-nature-park

Tualatin Hills National Wildlife Refuge

Attention wildlife lovers! If you are looking for a dream winter hike with kids, this refuge just outside of Portland is a rare breed of urban national wildlife refuges in the country, and is a great destination for a bit of fresh air and a chance to see some birds and wildlife. Winter makes a great time to visit, as the area is on the Pacific Flyway and sees plenty of migratory action for waterfowl, shorebirds, and more. What will you discover on the one-mile long nature trail that winds through the habitats and ends at a Wetland Observation Deck? This year, the visitor center and restrooms are closed, but trails remain open during daylight hours.

Free
19255 SW Pacific Hwy
Sherwood, OR 97140
Online: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/tualatin_river/PlanYourVisit.html

Wildwood Recreation Site

Just off Highway 26 on the way up to Mt. Hood you can find the perfect little area to explore winter at Wildwood Recreation Site. Over 6 miles of trails wind around the picturesque Salmon River-- check out the Cascade Streamwatch Trail, a paved ¾ mile loop that takes you to a fish viewing area below stream level. Will you see any fish on a snowy winter day? Time to find out!
 
$5 day-use pass, available at automated stations onsite
65670 E HWY. 26
Welches, OR
Online: https://www.blm.gov/visit/wildwood-recreation-site

Orenco Woods Nature Park

If you’re in need of a very short walk and a place to explore, Orenco Woods Nature Park makes a magical winter treat. While the play area is closed this year, the trails are open-- stroll across Rock Creek on the impressive bridge as you look for red-tailed hawks or even beavers! The trail extends north up to 6 miles, but your main destination is closer-- a series of funny faces in a cluster of trees, made out of twisted sticks. They’re the work of artist Patrick Dougherty, but they look like trolls that grew from the forest. Even better, kids can run inside and around the faces-- ask their theories on where they think the faces came from!

Free
Orenco Woods Nature Park
7100 NE Birch St.
Hillsboro, OR
Online: oregonmetro.gov/parks/orenco-woods-nature-park

Hoyt Arboretum

A 190-acre wonderland of trees tucked away in Washington Park has been a favorite location for families all year round. The 12 miles of trails are all named for notable sights you’ll see along the way, like the Maple Trail. In winter, be sure to check out the Holly Trail for the bright red berries of its namesake, or the majestic Douglas Firs all around. The Visitor Center is currently closed but the restrooms in the courtyard are still open.

Free, but you’ll need to pay for parking
4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Portland, OR
Online: hoytarboretum.org

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Tryon Creek is a beautiful natural area covering 650 acres with over 8 miles of hiking trails. You’ll feel miles away from any civilization, even though it’s only about 15 minutes from downtown Portland! This year the natural area is turning 50! Winter walks through Tryon mean a lush and wet trek through the large evergreens, but the well maintained trails make it a breeze. Kids will love counting bridges and watching the water stream under. This year the Visitor Center is closed, and be aware that this is a popular trail, so you might see a lot of other folks!
 
Free
11321 S Terwilliger Blvd
Portland OR 
Online: https://tryonfriends.org

Tamanawas Falls

If your crew is up for an adventure, pack the snow gear and head up Mt. Hood to Tamanawnas Falls, about hour and a half drive from Portland. In the winter you’ll want to be prepared for a very snowy road on the mountain, but these falls are popular enough that crews will still plow the parking lot. In dry weather it’s a relatively easy 4 mile hike to a stunning 150-foot waterfall. If it’s a snowy season the hike could be a lot more challenging, so plan accordingly! Even if you don’t make it all the way to the falls this time, the hike through a snowy old forest is scenery enough. Add a thermos of hot chocolate for a required treat!

$5 Recreation Pass required at trailhead
OR-35, Mt Hood, OR
Online: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mthood/recarea/?recid=53300

–Katrina Emery

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