NW Kids: Great Half-Day Hikes for Kids

September 1, 2015

By Amy Whitley

Photo at right: Looking out from “behind the curtain” of a waterfall on Trail of Ten Falls. Photo by Amy Whitley


For the majority of us, camping and backpacking season may be behind us, but families can still enjoy a wide variety of day hikes after school is back in session. The following hikes in Oregon and Washington are within driving distance of urban areas, making them ideal for weekend warriors with adventure kids.

Rainie Falls Trail, Oregon

This alternative to the popular Rogue River Trail outside Grants Pass, Oregon, parallels the Wild and Scenic section of Southern Oregon’s Rogue River on the south bank.

The trail takes families along a sometimes narrow, sometimes steep four-mile round-trip out-and-back route to scenic Rainie Falls, a Class V rapid on the river. In summer months, this section of the river is alive with river rafting tours, and replaced in the fall with a few anglers. At Rainie Falls, it’s not uncommon to see salmon leap into the air while spawning.

Trail of Ten Falls, Oregon

Trail of Ten Falls. Photo by Amy Whitley

Just a matter of minutes outside Salem, Silver Falls State Park plays host to the majestic Trail of Ten Falls, a nine-mile loop that delivers just what it promises: no fewer than 10 waterfalls.


Even families with reluctant hikers will have no problem; kids can be easily enticed to keep hiking to a new waterfall along the loop.

The trail weaves through dense forest along a canyon floor for the first half, then rises gradually to a ridgeline, with only 800 feet elevation gain in total. Some waterfalls en route, such as South Falls, allow hikers to “peek behind the curtain” as the trail winds behind the curtain of water. The trail starts and ends at the state park.

Rampart Ridge Trail, Washington

Located near Longmire in Mount Rainer National Park, the Rampart Ridge Trail is often hiked in summer by the many visitors who do not receive Wonderland Trail permits.

In fall, Rampart Ridge is blissfully empty. The 4.6 mile-loop begins at the Trail of the Shadows trailhead and takes hikers through both wetlands and old-growth forest. The climbs along the loop start out quite gentle, then progress to a series of switchbacks. The reward: views of the valley below and 4,632-foot Tumtum Peak. Further along the trail, the views continue, offering sweeping vistas of Longmire and Eagle Peak. When families reach the junction with the Wonderland Trail, a steep descent returns them to Longmire.

Amy Whitley of Medford, Ore., writes about her family adventures in NW Kids in every edition of OutdoorsNW. Miss a column? Log onto www.OutdoorsNW.com and search NW Kids. You can follow more of Amy’s adventures at www.PitStopsforKids.com