Tryon Creek State Park
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What’s to Love: The fact that Tryon Creek State Park exists is practically a miracle. It’s hard to imagine a state park existing within an urban setting. The actual miracle is that Tryon Creek is a still a healthy stream with migrating fish, which helps support an abundance of wildlife. Visitors are encouraged to learn more about the history of Tryon through various exhibits inside the visitor’s center, which also offers a plethora of activities for keeping kids busy.

Personally, I love the well-maintained trails, which are great for hiking, trail running, bird watching, dog walking, and even a section dedicated to horses. The maps are good, and the signage throughout the park is excellent. It’s hard to believe this is within a couple miles of downtown Lake Oswego.

Tryon employs of a full-time Park Ranger, who specializes in establishing interpretive/educational programming (e.g., nature walks for kids) for visitors to Tryon. I have been on several of these nature walks with my son, and every time, he loved it!

A couple of the pictures in this section are from a trip on 11/10/07, which focused on the watershed and the cleanliness and vitality of Tryon Creek. This park is truly a little gem, and we try to get there as often as possible. Probably the best part – there are no fees to use this park!  Here is a clip of the “Story and a Stroll” on 6/26/08.

Caveats: While the trail map is good, it’s easy to get off your intended route. Multiple intersections of trails can cause confusion. Just remember that you’re in a small area, and almost any trail will lead you to a road, back to the Visitor’s Center and/or main parking area. This is a busy park at times, and parking can be an issue. Also, do not leave valuables inside your car.

Website: Oregon State Parks Brochure (PDF)

Friends of Tryon Creek

Oregon State Parks Page

Distance from Portland: Tryon is within 10 miles of downtown Portland, and well worth the short trip.

Recommended Ages: All ages. Under age 2 will probably need a carrier of some kind (see Family Tips). Because there are so many options for short loop-hikes, Tryon’s trail system is great for kids of all ages.

Parental Stress Factor: Low Stress! Following the map and figuring out mileage can be a bit frustrating. Check with the friendly park staff for a recommendation, if you’re new to the park.

Physical Difficulty: Low to Medium – options exist for hikers of all levels. Even the steep sections are short-lived.

Family Fun Factor: High – This is a great park with so many options for activities and hikes. There is obviously a great deal of love and respect given to this place by the people who run it and maintain the park’s integrity. Your family will love Tryon.

Pet Friendly: Yes! Tryon Creek, in general, is a great place for dogs. Please keep them on a leash – the trails are narrow in places and running dogs can often knock over children. Also, dogs need to stay on the trail and out of water sources.

Weather Considerations: Year round, but watch for muddy conditions in the winter! Bridges and steps are extremely slippery in wet conditions. If you’re running with your kids, exercise extreme caution while crossing bridges and negotiating stairs.

Insider Info: Some activities are so popular with kids that you must register before the event. I encourage you to pick-up a copy of the “Metro-Parent” magazine, which is free at many locations throughout Portland. This publication does a great job of listing the kids’ programming at Tryon.

If you have small children, make sure you spend some time in the Visitor’s Center. It has some hands-on activities and exhibits just for kids. There is also a nice collection of books, and I often grab the “Big Book of Creepy Crawlers” and sit down with my son .

The Visitor’s Center also has a gift shop with books and toys. I like the selection of books, but my son often wants other toys. If you think this may be an issue, steer clear of this section of the Visitor’s Center.

Family Tips: Start at the Visitor’s Center and use the bathroom there. This is a busy park in a relatively small area. It’s best to do this business at the beginning of the hike. We used a Bob Jogging Stroller on this trip, which works fine on most of the trails at Tryon. However, there are several sections with stairs and steep hills. You’re probably better off, if you have to carry your kids, using a backpack.

There are so many options here for short loops, and this is a great way to introduce your kids to hiking. Inside the park, there are benches to sit and enjoy the surroundings, and also some snacks or a sack lunch. Find a nice seat, and enjoy a picnic in the “urban woods.” Finally, make sure you inquire about their day camps and other programming – there is probably something perfect for your family.

Technorati Tags: Tryon Creek, Oregon State Parks, family hikes, kids’ science programs, outdoor education

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4 Comments


  1. I love love love Tryon Creek! It’s one of my favorite places in the world, actually. There are so many plants and animals for kids and adults alike to enjoy. Not too many difficult areas to navigate either, which makes it perfect for family outings.

  2. Amanda,

    Thanks for the comment about Tryon! Yes, it’s an incredible resource for the entire community. The creek itself has made a stunning comeback in terms of health. I agree that the trails are not too difficult. When you do encounter hills, it’s short-lived.

  3. Yesterday my 4-yr-old son and I explored Tryon for the first time. I posted pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7230309@N05/sets/721

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