kari @ pnw kids
5 best Waterfalls near Portland for Kids
Updated: Jul 19, 2018
We're counting down our favorite waterfalls near Portland that are best for kids ( of all ages). We've all been to Multnomah Falls ( and if you haven't, go now!) but if you're like my kids sooner or later they're going to ask for something new.. Here is our list for top waterfalls near Portland that you probably haven't been to....that are amazing for kids!
1. University Falls, Tillamook Forest
We'll start out the list with a little adventure! For those looking for a more adventurous experience outside Portland head to University Falls in the Tillamook Forest. This is an excellent kid-friendly adventure in the Tillamook Forest if you don't mind a long (ish) drive on a dusty unpaved road.
Start at the University Falls Trailhead and continue on the trail until you see a sign for the falls about .7 miles in. You'll hear the waterfalls before you see them. The hike to the amazing waterfall is only about 3/4 of a mile long with minimal elevation gain making it perfect for little hikers who can manage a 1.5 mile round trip.
Pros: EPIC waterfall, not too many people, lots of areas to play and explore.
Cons: You need to travel on a variety of gravel roads to reach the trail head. We got lost once but were able to course correct very fast.
Check out our video on University Falls here on our YouTube Channel:
#2: Cedar Mill Falls.
In the heart of Portland, OR there are magical waterfalls that most people don't know exist. A beautiful boardwalk leads up to the falls. It is easy and fun for kids to run up and down. An "unofficial" path leads down to falls from Cornell St ( which you can see from the boardwalk). Take this path and it will lead you straight towards the falls.
Pros: Very shallow in summer making it ideal for play and exploration. Lots of cool animals. A total hidden gem in Portland.
Cons: The waterfalls are off Cornell Rd at 119th and you'll need to find street parking or park in the adjacent church parking lot. Cornell is a very busy street and you can hear traffic noise ( even though the falls do drown it out somewhat). Also, this is an extremely small area within the city and there are no other attractions other than the falls, river and an old farmhouse ( John Quincy Adams house ) . We also noticed a bit of trash around the falls but nothing that was totally disturbing! :)
Check out our video of Cedar Mill Falls here on our YouTube Channel:
#3 Jenkins Estate MINI falls in Beaverton, OR.
Ok, this doesn't actually qualify as a real waterfall BUT in the fall, winter and spring there is the TINIEST little cascade ( okay, a trickle) in the forest within the Jenkins Estate trail system in Beaverton, Oregon. This little area is particularly fun for littler kids as such a small flow of water makes for hours of endless play.
Start your adventure in the second parking lot,right below the estate. To the right of the lot is an unmarked path that leads into the forest. You will see long wooden stairs that will lead you down towards another path. Take a left, cross over a small bridge, and you'll see the small ( SO SMALL) cascade.
#4: Lacamas State Park
Lacamas park in Camas, WA ( just outside Vancouver, WA) has a couple totally epic waterfalls ( plus a lake, dam, epic trails etc). Most people come for the spring wildflowers or the lake but this park also has several waterfalls along the trail system. Head out on the main trail at Lacamas park and you'll run into several falls along the way.
Pros: Really nice big falls that can be viewed from various points along the trail. There are several areas where you can get up close to the falls too. There is a playground, restrooms and other natural attractions to check out including a beautiful wildflower meadow in spring.
Cons: Fairly crowded area in summer , some dog poop along the trail, and the waterfalls are too big to play in up super close.
#5 Hug Point State Park
BEACH WATERFALL. Enough said right? This is usually dry in the summer so it's best viewed in fall, winter or spring.
Pros: Beautiful and unique! Plus there are a lot of awesome caves to explores and other amazing natural features that will keep kids busy for hours.
Cons: It's a little bit of a drive ( 1.5 hours) to reach this awesome park. But, if you leave early you can make an entire day of this Pacific Northwest gem.
Tell us in the comments, what is your FAVORITE Pacific Northwest Waterfall for kids?