Get Yer Boots On!
There are many wonderful hiking options in the Columbia Gorge, here is a quick list of some of our favorite Gorge trails that are within an hour drive of Portland. We have included options that should work for families of any variety of ability and experience. FYI- we are hosting another "Family Adventuring 101" discussion at the store on April 25:
Bridal Veil Falls: Bridal Veil Falls State Park has a nature trail and a trail to the falls. Both are short and easy - less than a mile. The trail to the falls is steep in parts but still fine for kids of any age. Getting There: Exit 28 off I-84, head west on the Historic Columbia Highway for about 1 mile, the park will be on the right hand side.
Latourell Falls: A couple miles west of Bridal Veil on the Historic Columbia Highway is Latourell Falls. These falls plunge from a height of 250 feet. An easy 2 mile loop trail is accessible from the parking lot on the at Guy W. Talbot State Park. Fine for kids of any age. The loop ends on the road so be careful of cars when you finish up. Getting There: Exit 28 off I-84 head 3.4 miles west on the Historic Columbia Highway. The park will be on the left hand side.
Angels Rest: This one is for older kids. It is quite steep and the “pay-off” isn’t until the end, so younger ones may get a little restless. I hiked it with a friend’s six year-old and he held up great and was very proud of his accomplishment. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the top while taking in the incredible view. 4.6 miles roundtrip. Getting There: Exit 28 off I-84, the parking lot for the trailhead is right at the junction for the Historic Columbia Highway shortly after you get off the I-84.
Multnomah Falls - Wahkeena Falls Loop: I have hiked this loop countless times. I have hiked it many times with Mila on my back but she hasn’t pulled off the whole thing under her own power yet. She has made the hike up to Multnomah Falls and I hope to try this loop with her again this summer. Overall I think this hike should be fine for a five or six year old with some hiking experience.
It is a nice hike with views of the Gorge along the way. The steepest section being the hike up to the top of Multnomah (about a mile). From there you go over a stone bridge. Don’t go on the closed Perdition Trail. Head up the Larch Mountain Trail (441) to the junction with the Wahkeena Falls Trail (420). Once you hit the Wahkeena Trail, head east past a junction with trail 419 (you can take that trail to the north to shorten the hike slightly) and then downhill past Fairy Falls (a lovely sight) to Wahkeena Falls. Once you are at the base of Wahkeena Falls, take the Gorge Trail (400) back to the Multnomah Falls parking area. The total hike is about 5 miles. Getting There: I-84 East to Exit 30 Multnomah Falls.
Horsetail Falls to Ponytail Falls: The neat part of this hike is going behind the falls. This is an easy hike although the initial section is steep. From the base of Horsetail Falls head up to Ponytail Falls (also known as Upper Horsetail Falls). The trail goes into a basalt cave behind Ponytail. The trip to Ponytail and back is only 1 mile and an east trek for young hikers. Fine for kids of any age. You can continue on the lovely Oneonta Trail from Ponytail if you would like a longer hike. Getting There: I-84 East to Exit 35 head west on the Historic Columbia Highway about 1.5 miles. The parking lot is on the right, the trailhead will be on the left.
Wahcella Falls: This is a family favorite. The trail follows Tanner Creek and although it has a couple steep parts, it stays relatively level. The falls at the end of the trail are lovely and the trip is only 1 mile each way. Mila has been walking this one by herself since she was 2. We combine this hike with checking out the fish at Bonneville Dam. Getting There: I-84 to Exit 40. Take a right off of the exit, the trailhead is right there. A Northwest Forest Pass is required or a day pass may be purchased at the trailhead.
Eagle Creek - Punchbowl Falls: Whenever friends come to visit Oregon for the first time and want to take a hike, I take them to Eagle Creek. It is a spectacular trail that passes countless waterfalls and offers stunning canyon views.The trail itself is a unique piece of work with expansive bridges, ledges carved into cliffs, and a tunnel behind “Tunnel Falls” (about 6 miles down the trail).
Parts of this trail requires some surefooted work. The more precarious sections have a cable handrail. Definitely not a trail for a large group of kids, individual kids not in a listening mood, or anytime the trail is wet. The trip from the trail head to Punchbowl Falls and back (4.2 miles roundtrip) has one section of trail with a cable handrail and with the right little hiking companion, it is a great experience.
Getting There: I-84 East to Exit 41. A Northwest Forest Pass is required or a day pass may be purchased at the trailhead.
Now there's a nice to-do list for the sunny weather! Happy Trails!