Category Archives: Family Friendly

Smith and Bybee Wetlands (Summer)

Directions: Smith and Bybee Lakes is located at 5300 North Marine Drive. You can take I-5 to exit 307 for Marine Drive. Turn right onto Marine Drive and follow it until you see the sign for the wetlands.

From the parking area head to your right on the paved path. You will pass by a small turnout that goes by a small marshy area. If you look through the cattails you can see turtles and maybe even a Great Blue Heron. Continue on until you come to the entrance of the wetland area.

DSC_0005      DSC_0007

Follow the path into the heavily treed area and come to your first junction. Going right takes you to a viewpoint of a really boggy marshy area where you can see lots of birds. Next, go left at the junction and follow the trail a short distance to some boardwalk and a small sheltered area. This is another great spot for birdwatching. During the rainy months this boardwalk will have water under it from the marsh off in the distance. We heard you could see Pelicans in this area but we didn’t see them on this visit.

DSC_0010      DSC_0009

Keep following the path and it will take you in a loop back onto the main paved trail. Go left and continue on for a bit before the trail opens up into a field area with tall grasses. We saw a deer out in this area eating. The trail eventually ends at another covered viewing area that is also great for watching birds and maybe even catching a glimpse of a beaver. From here you just follow the path back out the way you came in.

DSC_0012        DSC_0020_2

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the wetland area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Sometimes. It can get a bit busy on the weekends.

Overall: It’s a great area for kids and bird lovers. Nice place to get a quick walk in after work as well.

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge (Rail Trail) (Summer)

Directions: Drive I-5 South to exit 243. Go right onto Ankeny Hill Road and at a stop sign go left onto Wintel Road. Follow this road until you come to a road on the left marked for the Rail Trail. Follow the gravel road down to the parking area.

From the parking area get on the trail and follow it by a field and into a more heavily wooded section. You will soon come to a split in the trail, go right onto the boardwalk. Following the boardwalk you will pass a bird blind that looks out over a marshy area. The boardwalk continues on over a swampy section as you come back out to an open area. At the end of the boardwalk you can go left and take a look at the ponds before back tracking back to the boardwalk and going right.

DSC_0115      DSC_0118

DSC_0126      DSC_0130

Follow the grassy trail along the marsh area for a while as you start to round around and follow near the road. You will come to a side trail on the left that ends at a green gate. Go around the gate and cross the road where you will find another side trail that takes you to a boardwalk trail. Follow the boardwalk a short distance to another bird blind that looks out over another marsh area. Backtrack to the road and cross it back to the gate and get back on the grass trail. Keep going on this trail where there are lots of blackberry bushes that are full of berries in July.

DSC_0133      DSC_0136

This trail takes you back to the gravel road you drove in on. Go right on the road and follow it back to your car.

While at the refuge we were able to see Great Blue Heron’s, Robins, American Goldfinch, Northern Flickers, Song Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, and more!

Distance 2- 3.5 miles (depends on if you look at all the ponds)

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the wildlife refuge.

Good For: All ages.

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Parts of the trail are closed from Oct-Apr

Popular: No

Overall: Nice quiet area that’s great for bird lovers, may be a little boring for others.

McDowell Creek Falls County Park (Summer)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 233. Go left at the light for Highway 20 and drive for a little over 18 miles. Take a left onto Fairview Road, there is a small sign that’s easy to miss marked for McDowell Park. In about a mile go left onto McDowell Creek Drive, follow this road for a little over 7.5 miles to the first parking area on the right.

From the parking area take the trail over a footbridge and continue on the trail until you come to a junction. Go right up the stone steps as you follow next to Royal Terrace falls (you will see this waterfall towards the end of the hike), the steps end at a small viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. Cross the creek over a bridge and head uphill, sometimes steeply, you will soon come to another split in the trail (it’s unsigned) go right and follow the trail where you will cross a road.

DSC_0004_2        DSC_0049_2

After crossing the road the trail heads downhill as you come to a large wooden viewing platform at the top of Majestic Falls. After the viewing platform head down the wooden steps to another smaller viewing area at the base of the falls. Continue on even more wooden steps and boardwalk as you get back on the trail. Keep going on the trail, you’ll switchback once and come to Crystal Falls. It’s a small waterfall in the creek.

DSC_0113      DSC_0076

DSC_0108      DSC_0110

Continuing on the trail you will cross back over the road and continue downhill. You’ll cross over another bridge and continue on for a short distance before you come to the last waterfall, Royal Terrace Falls. From here after you cross the bridge go right and head back to your car.

DSC_0080      DSC_0025_2

Back at the parking lot you can take a side trail down to the creek to see Lower McDowell Creek Falls. It has three small drops, it’s not tall but still pretty.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 220 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area (when we were here they were very dirty)

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Year round

Popular: Yes during the summer, it’s a popular swimming area. Not as crowded during colder months

Overall: Great easy hike to see a couple pretty waterfalls.

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Summer)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 East and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

From the parking area get on the trail near the bathrooms. The first part of the trail follows along a grassy/marshy area with Steigerwald Lake off to your left. The lake isn’t very big and almost looks like a very slow moving creek. The grassy area is pretty and you can see Crown Point and Larch Mountain off in the distance. Next, you will come to an area with Cotton Wood trees that offers some much needed shade if you’re visiting in the warmer months. At the junction go left through the metal art doorway.

DSC_0012      DSC_0015

DSC_0009      DSC_0017

After passing through the door follow the trail with the marsh to your left and the trees to your right. Here is where you will really get to see a lot of wildlife. We saw numerous different types of birds (Osprey, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Heron, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Bollocks Oriole, Common Yellowthroats, Northern Harrier, and much more!). We also saw a coyote pup and deer. The trail continues as you leave the refuge briefly and get onto the Columbia River Dike Trail. Go right here and follow this trail a short distance, you will pass by white birdhouses that have Purple Martins in them! Soon you will come to a split in the trail, go right and enter back into the Wildlife Refuge.

DSC_0016      DSC_0029

As you continue on the trail you will pass a tall wildlife sign and come to a bridge that takes you over Redtail Lake. After the bridge, continue on the trail as you round right and come to a second bridge (take a moment to look up here, there is a large Osprey nest high up in the trees). After this bridge you are back at your first junction. Go left here and follow the trail you came in on back to your car.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy- good for all ages.

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the wildlife refuge.

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at trailhead

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Year round (some parts are closed Oct-Apr)

Popular: Yes

Overall: Very easy hike (more of a walk) that is great for wildlife viewing, or a quick place to get outside and get moving.

 

Summer Hikes

Looking for a nice summer hike? Here’s a list of some of our favorites 🙂

If you’re looking to stay in Portland and the surrounding cities check out Oak Island, Mt. Talbert, or Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. They are all easy hikes that have decent shade and lots of birds.

DSC_0058

We love hitting up all the great trails that the Mt. Hood area has to offer during the summer months. Tamanawas Falls and Umbrella Falls are great options if you are looking for a waterfall hike. For a lake hike check out Mirror Lake (and Tom, Dick, and Harry Ridge!), and Lower Twin Lake. Zigzag Canyon is also a really fun hike, go in mid to late June while the lupine is blooming!

DSC_0004

Some great summer Gorge hikes are Upper and Lower Latourell Falls, Gillette Lake, and Strawberry Island.

DSC_0025

Summer time is full of Kayaking as well, be sure to check out Scappoose Bay and Lost Lake!

DSC_0025

–Happy Hiking!

 

Upper and Lower Latourell Falls (Winter)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Get onto the Old Highway heading right for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Latourell Falls parking area.

This trail is open year round and can become icy during the winter months. We ran into a few spots that were slick and some spots that we were almost not able to pass. The weather was above freezing but back in the woods it gets colder and is shadier, so places don’t thaw as quickly.

Beginning at the parking area head up the paved path  that takes you to a viewpoint. From here take a left where the trail is now dirt and continue up (sometimes steeply) where you will pass a bench and another good area to view the falls. This is where we ran into our first slick area. There are a few places where runoff goes across the trail and it was icy and pretty slick. We had hiking poles which helped but it was still a interesting 5 feet or so. Keep hiking uphill next to the creek and crossing four footbridges. Soon you will flatten out a bit and round a corner where the trail starts to head downhill to Upper Latourell Falls. This is a two tier waterfall that looks like a combination of Bridal Veil and Ponytail Falls. It’s quite pretty.

DSC_0022      upper

We had quite the time heading down the trail to the bridge below the waterfall. It was VERY icy. Most people were turning back and not even attempting to cross the ice. We saw a few people sit down and slide the corner to the bridge. We ended up doing that and it was a very wet and cold experience. It’s not a good option for kids or older folks. It was very out of control and we could’ve easily slid right off the trail into the creek.

After crossing the bridge at the base of the falls the trail is pretty flat for a while and eventually switchbacks downhill passing a tree that is split up the middle. Soon you’ll come to a split in the trail, go left/uphill for a bit until the trail eventually drops down again. Continue hiking down until you reach the old highway. Cross the highway and take a few stone steps down into Guy Talbot Park. Follow the paved path through the park and under the highway bridge. This trail takes you to the base of Latourell Falls. From here it’s a short paved path back up to the parking area.

DSC_0010      DSC_0015

DSC_0073      DSC_0070

When you’re down in Guy Talbot Park it’s worth a little side trip to check out the old Latourell House. Head down through the park until you reach a small neighborhood. The house is on the corner of Latourell St. and Falls St.

DSC_0068

 

Distance: 2.25 miles

Elevation: 520 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages (unless there is ice on the trail)

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great Gorge hike that lets you get many different views of Latourell Falls.