Tall trees. A clear river. Gentle inclines. The Old Salmon River Trail has everything you’d want in a kid-friendly hike near Portland.
Just outside Welches on the slopes of Mt. Hood, the Old Salmon River Trail is perfect for families. On a recent trek on the trail, most of the fellow hikers we came across were parents and kids in hiking boots.
It’s no wonder. The path is easy enough for little walkers, though Peeper preferred to ride Dad’s shoulders much of the way.
The trail forks down to the river regularly, offering plenty of opportunities for exploring.
Little beaches here and there hold rocks perfect for throwing into the river (and there are even a few swimming holes that would be refreshing/freezing on a hot day).
It’s no wonder we had such a wonderful time.
A fun family hike near Portland
The trail runs along the river, so there are no loops. That means you’ll need to turn back and walk the same path you came in on when you’re close to finishing your family hike.
(Remember: Turn back before your kids are legitimately tired. If you wait too long, you risk on-the-trail tantrums, and that’s fun for precisely no one!)
Know, too, that although the vast majority of the trail is safe for little walkers, there are a few places that have steep drop-offs. Pay attention to the terrain coming up and hold kids’ hands whenever there’s any chance of danger.
It’s also wise to bring a change of clothes. It’s very likely someone may want to wade into the (very cold!) water or accidentally on purpose get overly sandy when playing on the many small beaches. There are also a few spots where you can cross a narrow creek to explore an island—quite the adventure for little hikers!
Old Salmon River Trail: Details
Directions: Head east on Hwy 26 toward Mt. Hood. In Welches, turn right on Salmon River Road. There is a parking lot about 5 miles down on the right, but it’s often full. Don’t sweat it: There are multiple other parking areas and trailheads just down the road.
Features: River, old growth forest
Good for: Toddlers, families, babies in carriers
Must-know: You’ll need a recreation pass from May 15 – October 15. Buy one at the ranger station in Welches.
Have you ever hiked the Old Salmon River Trail? Do you like other family-friendly outdoor spots on Mt. Hood?