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Backpacker Magazine – September 2009

Top 3 Family Dayhikes

Pack up your brood for a day in the outdoors with these kid-friendly trails.

by: Alistair Wearmouth

Visit 10 waterfalls in one day.

This 7.5-mile loop drops into an old-growth forest that shades Silver Creek Canyon in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The route tags 10 waterfalls from 27 to 178 feet high. You'll never hike more than a mile without seeing a cascade–they're interspersed along the south and north forks of Silver Creek–ideal for kids as young as 6 (read: easily bored). Bailout routes at South Falls, Lower South Falls, and just past Middle North Falls, at the halfway point, create shorter loops in case of any midhike meltdowns. Kids enjoy following the trail into deep hollows behind four of the falls, where you'll get close enough for a light misting. It's a popular destination, so go midweek and start from the day-use areas near North Falls or Winter Falls instead of the more developed South Falls.

The Carrot
After a dip in the park's swimming area, head to Mac's Place for burgers. They have a Kids Eat Free special on Tuesdays (three little ones max). (503) 873-2441

The Way
Drive 30 miles south of Portland on I-5 to exit 271 at Woodburn; follow OR 214 for 30 miles, through Silverton, to Silver Falls State Park.

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Reader Rating: -


Howard Hudson
Jul 21, 2011

In addition to the superb trails, there is an equine area on the other side of the Silver Falls Highway, and an overnight camping facility, as well. My two kids and I have hiked one area one day, then a different area the next, making for a pleasant weekend in the (nearby) woods.
Some folks swim, but for me the water is a bit brisk (glacial runoff and all).
It is picture-postcard perfect, but weekends, especially in the summer, can be crowded at times. If you want to camp, check if you will need to reserve a spot. Aside from sleeping and cooking, we spent almost no time in camp, so the other folks were not a deterrent for us.

Steve C
Oct 08, 2009

Previous post was regarding Silver Falls, OR

Steve C
Oct 08, 2009

This classic hike may have been my daughters first hike (via snuggly) at just a few weeks old. This is a great hike for families and parents. The beauty is calendar perfect - and chances are you've owned one with a photos of these falls.


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