11 Best Hikes for Kids in the Columbia River Gorge

There are so many hikes out in the Scenic Columbia Gorge, the first scenic byway in the United States. I tried to google how many hikes are there in the Columbia Gorge and could not find an answer. Almost every time we head out to this area, we try a different gorge hike. There are many waterfall hikes and hikes with incredible views of the Columbia Gorge. Some of the hikes we have gone on were easy for my kids while others were a struggle. I have not included any hikes that were a struggle for them. These are the 11 Best Hikes for Kids in the Columbia River Gorge I have found so far that are easy enough for kids and almost all of them include waterfalls and scenic views.

Punchbowl Falls hike
Punchbowl Falls

11 Best Hikes for Kids in the Columbia River Gorge

1. Punchbowl Falls hike is one of many awesome kid friendly hikes located in the scenic Columbia gorge area and it is one of my personal favorites. If you hike past Punchbowl waterfall there are a few other waterfalls that you can see. It’s about a 45 minute drive from downtown Portland and it is appropriate for kids ages 7 and up. To learn more about this hike, read my Punchbowl Falls hike post.

 

Wahclella Falls a waterfall in Oregon
Wahclella Falls Hike

 

2. Wahclella Falls is another awesome hike with a waterfall and is easy for kids. We hiked this our cousins and even their 5 year olds were able to do this hike easily. To learn more about this hike, read my Wahclella Falls post.

Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls

 

3. Wahkeena Falls is a beautiful hike. It is not much of a hike to Wahkeena Falls, but you can keep going up to the Lemmon’s Viewpoint a scenic overlook. I encourage you to keep hiking up to Fairy Falls after taking in the view.

Oneonta Gorge waterfall
Oneonta Gorge waterfall

 

4. Oneonta Gorge is no easy hike. It is a short hike, just 1.2 miles round trip. In order to complete this hike you wade through water, climb over boulders, and shimmy across fallen trees. To learn more about this hike, read my Oneonta Gorge post.

Fairy Falls
Fairy Falls

 

5. Fairy Falls is past Wahkeena Falls and totally worth the long hike. For kids this can be tiresome. It is not as steep as Ponytail Falls hike. If you decide to hike up to Fairy Falls try to find the Geocache the kids and I hid out there last summer! It is between Wahkeena falls and Fairy Falls. This hike is 2 miles round trip.

 

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls

6. Bridal Veil Falls is a kid friendly hike along the Columbia Scenic Highway 25 minutes east of Portland, OR. When you are driving along the highway from Troutdale, OR east toward Multnomah Fall, Bridal Veil will be the second waterfall you come to. It’s just after Latourell Falls.  If you would rather take I-84 out to the waterfall area, then you will take the Bridal Veil exit.

The Bridal Veil Falls hike is an easy one, less than a mile round trip. The paths are wide and it never gets terribly steep. Don’t let the paved trail deceive you at the beginning of your hike. Unlike Latourell Falls you will not be able to use a stroller, because the paved path ends and there are quite a few stairs. Be sure to keep an eye on your kids. There is a bridge to cross and then the path follows along Bridal Creek.

Elowah Falls
Elowah Falls

7. Elowah Falls is a gorgeous hike and it is extremely easy for kids. This hike is only 1.4 miles round trip. It seemed that the trail might keep going, but we only went to the waterfall and back. This hike is found off of I-84 exit 35. We did this hike the year we had no snow out here. Typically, there is a lot more water pouring.

8. Ponytail Falls is one of many waterfalls along the scenic Columbia Gorge area in Oregon. The family friendly hike to Ponytail Falls begins at Horse Tail Falls, about 40 minutes east of Portland off exit 3 when taking I-84.

This hike is a steep, long trail. Round-trip it’s about 1.5 miles, but you can take several different splits, including one to Triple Falls. We decided not to hike all the way to Triple Falls, because the kids were wiped out by the time we made it to the split. Kids over the age of 4 or 5 should be able to hike this trail. I do not recommend taking a stroller on this trail.

Along the Ponytail Falls hike you will be treated to beautiful views of the Columbia Gorge, Middle Oneonta waterfall, Lower Oneonta Falls, and the massive Oneonta Gorge.

There is no cost to hike Ponytail Falls and there is plenty of free parking. Nearby at Ainsworth State Park are clean bathrooms.

9. Latourell Falls is a great place to go hiking with the family and see a beautiful waterfall. It is found along the Columbia Scenic Highway, 25 minutes east of Portland, Oregon. Once you’ve visited Crown Point this will be the first waterfall you come to on the right side. There is a signage and a good size parking lot you can park at. There are also lots of picnic tables. We usually enjoy lunch here before we start hiking the waterfalls.

At Latourell Falls there are two trails for hiking. The shortest and easiest hike takes you right down to the bottom of the waterfall. The path is wide and you could push an outdoor stroller on it if you need to. Once you are at the bottom of the fall you can decide to go further taking you to a green space or turn around. Either way you will have to turn around at some point. The long hike is not good for strollers after a certain point. I’ve only taken it once and I’m pretty sure we got lost, so I cannot recommend taking it. It was very beautiful and we did find our way back without a problem. If you do decide to do it triple check the map and be aware of the trail splitting.

Falls Creek Falls
Falls Creek Falls (the lower part)

 

10. Falls Creek Falls is a great hike on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. It is much further to drive too, but I think it is worth it. The trail starts at the end of Road 3062. This hike is a 3.4 mile hike round-trip if you hike to the waterfall and back out. We did not do the long hike that is available here, so I do not know if that portion is kid-friendly.

Angel's Rest
Angel’s Rest

 

11. Angel’s Rest is an intense uphill hike, but you are rewarded with spectacular views of the Columbia Gorge. This hike is 4.4 miles round trip, so keep that in mind before taking kids. This hike is off I-84, take exit #28 for Bridal Veil

I am sure there are even more great hikes for kids in the Columbia River Gorge, but we haven’t done them yet! Hopefully I can re-write this article next year and share even more kid friendly hikes.

11 Best Hikes for Kids in the Columbia River Gorge

Okay, I know what you are thinking. I left out Multnomah Falls. I absolutely recommend stopping at Multnomah Falls! We stop by there all the time. In fact, I drove out there just to take pictures of it iced over when it stormed out here. You can hike to the top of Multnomah Falls, but I have yet to do it. My brother, sister, and I went about half way once, but my kids were just too little. I have heard it is a good hike, but felt like I couldn’t recommend it because of this. My kids were 3 and 6 when we attempted it. So, I would suggest not taking a child to try it until they are at least 7.

Multnomah Falls covered in snow and ice
Multnomah Falls covered in snow and ice

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One Response to “11 Best Hikes for Kids in the Columbia River Gorge”

  1. Mary Alice Bellis

    Thank you for your post. I was looking for ideas for hikes for seniors, and I figure if it’s good for kids, it’s probably good for seniors. (We aren’t that old at 65 and 69, but the bad knees don’t help when it comes to hiking. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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