Hiking Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion

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IMG_1854What’s to Love:  This is an area classic! It’s a challenging 5 to 5.5 miles round trip, depending on a couple factors. There are also many options from the Lower Macleay trailhead. Check-out this hike I suggested in an article back in 2007 – it’s a 2 mile loop that is much better for younger kids. However, if your kids are up for a stiff challenge, the hike up to Pittock Mansion from Lower Macleay is a step up on the Forest Park hiking scale. Since it’s an “out-and-back,” you can always turn around if your kids revolt.

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Hiking Council Crest

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Council CrestWhat’s to Love:  From the Marquam Trail Shelter Trailhead, it’s a stiff 1.7 mile walk uphill to Council Crest Park. The trail crosses several roads, and passes closely to nearby homes. Despite the close proximity to civilization, this hike offers a nice challenge to hikers of all ages and certainly is worth doing at least once.

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Milo McIver State Park

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Milo McIver State ParkWhat’s to Love:  Milo McIver State Park is located along the Clackamas River and is only about 30 miles from Portland. For being so close to Portland, it has an “off-the-beaten-path” feel to it. There are some nice picnic areas with grills and plenty of camping, but it’s the disc golf (27 holes) that makes the park a prime destination for the whole family.

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Leavenworth, WA – Summer Edition

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Leavenworth, WashingtonWhat’s to Love:  If your family is into outdoor adventure, Leavenworth, WA is an ABSOLUTE must!  It’s a relatively-short, 5-hour drive to some of the best outdoor recreation you could possibly imagine: mountain biking, road biking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, traditional rock climbing, sport climbing, and some of the best bouldering in the country.  For outdoor enthusiasts, Leavenworth is like a dream come true. 

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Hardesty Trail Loop Hike

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Hardesty Trail Forest ParkWhat’s to Love:  Although it’s our rainy season here in Portland, I encourage all of my readers to get out with your kids for a family hike. The winter is actually a great time for hiking, but you’ll need to be prepared for slippery conditions, lots of mud, rain, and wind. Forest Park offers many options, but I think you’ll find this little gem one of the better options for kids.

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Learn to Climb: Chockstone Guides

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Smith Rock State ParkWhat’s to Love:  The picture featured above is Jim Ablao of Chockstone Climbing Guides.  Our family has climbed with him in the past at Smith Rock State Park. When Jim is working, it’s a sure bet that he’ll be sporting a big smile on his face. Right before I took the aforementioned picture, I asked him, “Another great day at the office, huh?”  Jim obviously loves his work as a climbing guide, but he also has a love for climbing, which shows in his enthusiasm (and competence) as a a guide.  If you’re looking to take your family out, or you want to give rock climbing at try at one of the world’s premier climbing areas, get in contact with Jim as soon as possible.  The fall is a great time to climb at Smith.

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Government Cove Peninsula

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Government CoveWhat’s to Love:  I know I’ve been a bit heavy on climbing destinations lately, but Government Cove is a little gem that provides more than rock climbing, scrambling, and bouldering.  This is a relatively undeveloped location (i.e., no fees, no restrooms, no water, no parking area, etc.). Despite that fact, the entire area was very clean with some nice paved and unpaved trails for hiking and biking.

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Beacon Rock State Park

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Beacon Rock State ParkWhat’s to Love:  Being a climber, I’ve always been fascinated, and a bit intimidated, by the 848 foot high monolith – “Beacon Rock.” So intimidated that my first trip to the top was along the mile-long paved walkway and not roped-up hanging off the side of the rock. While the hike (1.8 miles round trip) to the top and back is exhilerating, the volcanic core is just a small piece of the whole picture.  Upon further exploration, you’ll see that Beacon Rock has much to offer the whole family.

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Horsethief Lake State Park

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Horsethief ButteWhat’s to Love:  Horsethief Lake State Park and Horsethief Butte provide a nice one-two-punch for a full-day family outing.  Located about 90 miles east (via WA 14 or OR 84), you might try these two destinations for an adventurous combination of camping, technical rock climbing, rock scrambling, bouldering, hiking, boating, and fishing.

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Hiking Angel’s Rest

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Angel's Rest Columbia River GorgeWhat’s to Love:  Since moving here to Portland in 1999, my wife and I have hiked Angel’s Rest too many times to count.  To this day, it remains one or our favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, and it’s one of the first hikes when entering the Gorge from Portland. While we carried our oldest son up the hike when he was younger, this was our first visit to hike the entire 4.8 miles (round trip) with both kids.

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Old Salmon River Trail

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Old Salmon River TrailWhat’s to Love:  We had heard good things about this hike from a close friend.  Those sentiments were corroborated by Bonnie Henderson in her book “Best Hikes with Children in Western and Central Oregon.”  After experiencing the Old Salmon River Trail, I must agree with these two sources – this is the perfect hike with children and a wonderful spot in general.

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is just outside downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s a nice location for hiking with younger children and viewing birds/wildlife. There is a beautiful Education Center with a gift shop and exhibit hall.

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Wapato Access Greenway

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Wapato Access GreenwayWhat’s to Love:  Don’t know exactly what it is about Sauvie Island, but every time I go, I feel like I’m on vacation.  I think it has something to due with the fact that when I’m there, I actually feel like I’m getting away from some of the inevitable craziness of living in a big city.  Windy country roads, farms, bike riders, pleasant hikes, beach, etc. – it all feels like a dream some days.  Some of my favorite stops are on the island and the Wapato Access Greenway (State Park system) is a worthy diversion from the more common destinations.

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Henry Hagg Lake

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Henry Hagg LakeWhat’s to Love:  I’ve lived in Portland since 1999, and this was my first trip to Henry Hagg Lake.  I was always concerned that it would just be a big scene with jet skis, motor boats, and a bunch of yahoos throwing trash all over the place.  I was definitely wrong and we had a lovely time.  I found the entire recreation area clean and a bargain at $5.00 for a pass.  The lake offered up a fairly secluded beach with warm water for swimming and a bunch of activities for the whole family.

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Leach Botanical Gardens

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What’s to Love:  Leach Botanical Garden’s mission “…is to maintain and enhance living collections of plants for the purpose of education, research and conservation and to preserve the legacy of the Gardens founders, John and Lilla Leach. The Garden is committed to providing positive experiences to the diverse community upon which it relies for support” (source). 

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Oxbow Regional Park

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Oxbow Regional ParkWhat’s to Love:  One of my favorite things about writing these articles is the shocking surprises that often occur while on different adventures.  The biggest surprises happen when I think a place is just going to be awful, and it turns out being the exact opposite.  It’s happened several times this summer, and it definitely happened on my visit to Oxbow Regional Park.  This park is a MUST visit during the hot days of summer!

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Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

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Trailhead at Cape Perpetua Scenic AreaWhat’s to Love:  Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is just south of the coastal town of Yachats, Oregon.  The scenic area offers many of the amenities of a state park including a campground with piped drinking water, flush toilets, fire rings, and tables, a visitor center offering interpretive programs, and plenty of picnic areas in the day-use area.  While these features are a boon to the average visitor, parents will be pleasantly surprised by something else.

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Oak Island Nature Trail

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Tons of blackberries!What’s to Love:  The Oak Island Nature Trail is a pleasant 2.5 mile loop-hike on Sauvie Island.   It’s basically a flat, two-lane service road.  There is plenty of room for kids to run ahead, and it’s perfect for a jogging stroller.  Doesn’t sound too exciting does it?  Well, during the month of August, this trail becomes far more than a hiking destination, and it’s well worth your time and energy to find this well-traveled path.

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Wahclella Falls

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Wahclella FallsWhat’s to Love:  In my opinion, Wahclella is the Columbia River Gorge’s most beautiful waterfall.  I realize that’s a pretty bold claim considering all the great waterfalls.  However, Wahclella’s massive canyon walls filled with lush-green vegetation will make you think you’re in Hawaii, and it’s only 40 minutes from downtown Portland.  Spend the day, half a day, or even a couple hours, and you too will become a believer.

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Audubon Society of Portland

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PavillionWhat’s to Love:  Their message – “Audubon Society of Portland is devoted to the conservation of Oregon’s last remaining wild places.  Our first articles of incorporation written in the early 1900’s reflect this sentiment, ‘to use any and all lawful means for the protection of the wild birds and animals for the State of Oregon and elsewhere.’  We have taken this task very seriously over the years.”  (source)  After seeing some injured birds live (falcon, owls, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk), I believe their commitment.  However, I believe the Audubon Society is somewhat off the radar for family fun, but for me, it’s an absolute must for small children.  Here is why…

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