Squishy hiking

Hiking with kids inside Tryon Creek park

Hiking isn’t just for the sunny days of summer. As an Oregon parent enduring a long, wet winter with two high-energy kids, hitting the trails simply can’t wait for the next 60-degree day. Fortunately, around the Portland metro area, there is no shortage of great urban and semi-urban forest adventures awaiting us.

Although getting the kids into their rain gear and out of the house can sometimes resemble a failing hostage negotiation, the trepidation usually ends once we stomp in our first mud hole.

Tryon Creek is a favorite of ours. It’s a moderate walk to the creek from the visitor’s center. It’s got decent water in the winter, so we head down there for some leaf boat races.

Reed Canyon is a hidden Portland gem. I lived in my home for seven years before I learned of this sanctuary not more than two miles from my front door. It’s an easy trail, about a mile and a half, surrounding a reservoir and filled with waterfowl. They’ve got a small population of returning salmon and even a resident otter.

The Audubon Society is also a frequent destination. We check out the birds in the hospital, and say hello to residents Hazel (a northern spotted owl) and Ruby (a turkey vulture) on the way to hiking the loop. We’ve poked more slugs and rotten logs along those trails than anywhere else in Oregon.

The benefit of frequenting urban forests like these is that my kids and I begin to appreciate what distinct seasons have to offer the same plot of forestland. Mushrooms in one season give way to wildflowers in the next. A spawning salmon may seem more majestic than a banana slug, but try telling that to a 6-year-old with a stick.

Urban forests are all around us – get those little ones out there. These natural treasures are muddy, they’re cold, they’re wet, and they’re open year ‘round. What’s not to love?


Jordan Benner
Public Outreach Program Manager and Oregon parent.


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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