Tag 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.


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!


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


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


–Happy Hiking!