Powell Butte – Mountain Biking

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View from Parking Area of Powell ButteWhat’s to Love: I moved to Portland from one of the best mountain biking cities in the country – Durango, Colorado. I used to ride endless single-track right from my doorstep, and I lived just blocks from downtown. I miss the Durango sunshine, but I miss the epic mountain bike rides the most. Within the city limits of Portland, Powell Butte is the best cure for “single track fever.”

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Champoeg State Park

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What’s to Love: If you want to experience some great biking on safe, paved-paths, or play 15 holes of frisbee golf, then by all means head to Champoeg State Park. It’s well worth the 30 mile drive from Portland, even with gas being $4+ per gallon. It is also the perfect destination for a family camping trip, especially for first timers.

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Leif Erikson Drive

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Leif Erikson Drive in Forest ParkWhat’s to Love: How many cities can claim an 11-mile stretch of dirt road closed to motorized vehicles that is located within a protected, urban forest? In that same forest, lies a 30 mile hiking trail called the “Wildwood” that sports a healthy amount of peripheral trails and loop-hikes. Well, if you live in Portland, Oregon, you’re incredibly lucky to have this amazing recreational resource called “Forest Park.” Leif Erikson Drive is the 11 mile stretch of dirt road running through the heart of Forest Park. It’s just a small piece of the Forest Park puzzle, but it definitely warrants its own post on Portland Family Adventures.

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Oneonta Falls (Middle)

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Oneonta FallsWhat’s to Love: Adventurous parents will love this hike – it offers a bit of excitement with some stiff climbs (short), steep drops (careful! No barrier), but it’s still pretty safe for most kid-hikers. At 2.7 miles round trip, the distance on this hike is just right for most family members. Plus, there are many options, if things don’t work out with the longer hike.

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George Rogers Park

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Beautiful picnic areas at George Rogers ParkWhat’s to Love: George Rogers Park is located on the south side of downtown Lake Oswego. If you live in Portland, it’s worth the drive. This is definitely a “destination park” featuring hiking and biking trails, an easy-to-find Letterbox, an interesting historical past, a decent beach, tennis courts, big baseball field, and some of the nicest picnic benches and grills you’ll find in a park setting.

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Mt. Tabor Park

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Playstructure at Mt. Tabor ParkCovered picnic area at Mt. TaborWhat’s to Love: Mt. Tabor Park is another showpiece destination within Portland city limits. This park has it all – including stellar hikes, mountain biking, road biking, closed-roads on certain days/times, beautiful views, and at times…serenity. We have been going to Mt. Tabor park for years, and we still seem to find new nooks and crannies to explore.

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Springbrook Park/Uplands Elementary

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Play structure at Uplands Elementary PlaygroundWhat’s to Love: My son and I stumbled upon this little gem while touring (outer) SW parks and playgrounds. We were headed to see “Springbrook Park,” but ended up pulling into Uplands Elementary School. We were pleasantly surprised by the awesome playground structures (see pictures). Lucky for us, there were two trailheads at opposite ends of the playground that led directly into Springbrook Park.

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Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge

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Sign for Tualatin River National Wildlife RefugeWhat’s to Love: Right off the very busy highway 99W in Sherwood, OR is a very pleasant surprise. The first thing you’ll notice when pulling into the Refuge is the beautiful new interpretive center. The interpretive center houses exhibits, restrooms, a small gift shop, a spotting scope, and some very helpful and friendly volunteers. Because of traffic, getting to this place can be a real pain, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

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Hoyt Arboretum – Loop Hike

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Hoyt Arboretum SignWhat’s to Love: The Hoyt Arboretum is one of our favorite hiking locations. If you haven’t visited the Hoyt, you’re family is missing out on some great fun. The trails are well marked and maintained, there are plenty of opportunities for various loop-hikes, and it’s located right near the Zoo, Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and Washington Park. The Arboretum is the showpiece for the entire Washington Park area. What more could you ask for in a destination?

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Latourell Falls

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What’s to Love: An easy 2.3 mile loop brings you past two picture-perfect waterfalls (lower and upper) with viewing bridges at each spot giving you a close-up view. On the return portion of the hike there is a spectacular viewing area that gives a great view of Rooster Rock and the Gorge. The hiking length is just right for a family outing, and the terrain is adventurous but never risky or questionable. The best part about this hike is that it’s the closest waterfall-hike to Portland. There is also a picnic area on the return trip.

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Tamanawas Falls

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What’s to Love: The hike to Tamanawas Falls is a relatively short (3.8 miles round trip) and easy hike, and the reward is a striking waterfall in a beautiful, amphitheater-like setting. There are several bridges to cross, and your kids will get a kick out of crossing them. As you get close to the falls, you’ll have to walk through a large rock/scree slide, which my son loved! This was one of the best parts of the hike for us.

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Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge – Hiking Loop

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What’s to Love: A great 2 mile loop-hike right in the heart of the Westmoreland area, and right in the heart of a beautiful Wildlife Refuge. Many hard-working people have transformed this entire wetland into a wonderful destination for hiking, biking, bird watching and exploring. For the most part, it is now very clean and safe. Historically, that has not always been the case (see Caveats).

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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.

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Cannon Trail – Forest Park

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What’s to Love: Cannon Trail is a *relatively* new trail in the Forest Park trail system. In my opinion, building this trail was very smart. The building of Cannon Trail helped eliminate the need to use many existing, rogue trails that cut through sensitive areas on a steep hillside. The trailhead is located off Germantown road either at Leif Erickson or the Wildwood trail parking lots.  If you’re looking for a hike with a bit less traffic, this hike fits the bill. 

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Cape Lookout State Park

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What’s to Love: After a beautiful, 1 mile, all downhill hike you’ll end-up on one of the most breathtaking beaches on the Oregon coast. Plus, the hike back uphill is just enough to deter large crowds of people from visiting this spot. With the large cliffs, sweeping views of low dunes, and a totally wooded backdrop, this beach has it all, except 80 degree+ water. This may look like a beach right out of a Hawaiian guidebook, but the water temperature will definitely tell you it’s all Oregon. There will be plenty of room to find a lunch spot in the perfect white sand. On my first visit, my son Rhys (3 years old) and his little friend Jasmine (2 1/2 at the time) took off running all over this beach buck naked – they loved it!

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Lower Macleay Loop Hike

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Lower Macleay Parking AreaWhat’s to Love:  I have hiked all 30 miles of the Wildwood trail, as well as most of the peripheral trails throughout Forest Park.  Therefore, I feel I’m in a pretty good position to expound on this incredible natural resource.  Whether you’re trail running, pushing a jogging stroller, wandering aimlessly, or hiking with friends, Forest Park has a hiking option that’s just right for your family.  This article focuses on a 2 mile loop-hike starting at Lower Macleay park that is a great option for families with small children.

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Hiking Cooper Spur

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What’s to Love: Cooper Spur is technically a climbing route to the summit of Mt. Hood. However, much of the approach is a very exhilarating hike along a rocky, narrow ridge. The hike culminates with a scramble up a scree slope to “Tie-in-Rock.” This is the place where technical climbers rope-up for the snow/ice climb to the summit. I have hiked this many times over the years, and I always get a thrill from being so close to Mt. Hood.

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