People who tell you Oregon is boring are sadly misinformed! Hiking in Oregon is one of the best parts about living here, and today I’d like to focus on some of the best Oregon hikes under 5 miles. This barely scratches the surface for all the best hikes in Oregon.
These hiking trails are easy to moderate, and all of the trails are 5 miles and under. One of these spots you will notice is not far from Oregon, which you will find in our neighbor state Washington. Because the state of Washington is just as beautiful as Oregon and a part of the great northwest, I thought we’d give them some love too!
NOTICE: Most trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge are closed until further notice because of damage from the Eagle Creek Fire. The closure involves ALL trails between Rooster Rock State Park and Hood River. It is anticipated that most of these trails may not reopen until Spring or Summer 2018. Please check the list of Columbia Gorge trail closures before you plan for a hike.
Here’s our list of some of the easiest and best Oregon hikes.
18. Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop
If you love waterfalls, then this hike will be paradise for you. On this loop, you will find eight named incredible waterfalls as well as countless cascades and intermittent falls. You will start this hike at the west end of the Multnomah Falls parking lot, at a small sign pointing out the Return Trail #442. In just half a mile you will reach the Wahkeena Trailhead.
Distance: 4.9 miles
17. Angel’s Rest Hike
From the top of Angel’s Rest Hike, you will see spectacular views of Beacon Rock, Silver Star Mountain, and many more landmarks. The view of the river below is absolutely incredible, and getting to the top is fairly short making for a long-time favorite of families. The drive from downtown Portland to the trailhead is under 45 minutes and is the perfect hike for summer weekends.
Heads up for families: Be aware this hike does have cliffside drop-offds, there are no handrails, and you should keep little ones close by.
Distance: 4.8 miles round trip
16. Sweet Creek Trail
You will find so many waterfalls at this beautiful trail, which is located in the Siuslaw National Forest. In my opinion, as far as Oregon hikes go, this is easily one of the best hikes in Oregon. I took my little man here, who is 8 and he absolutely loved it.
You will find a dozen small waterfalls, which is just a few miles inland from Florence. The falls drop 70 feet in four distinct tiers.
Distance: 2.2 miles round trip (to Sweet Creek Falls) and 5.2 miles for all trails.
15. Tillamook Bay Wetlands
You’ll definitely want to come prepared for this one, so grab a good pair of boots during the wet season because the dike can be very soggy. Along this beautiful hike, you have a good chance of seeing deer, and this place is also known for bird watching as well.
Also known as the Wilson-Trask Wetlands, and Rain River, it’s part of a project to convert some of the estuary habitats back to the tide-influenced delta it once was.
Distance: 3.6 Miles
14. Trillium Lake Loop Hike
In the Mount Hood National Forest, you will find here one of the most popular day-use and camping destinations, Trillium Lake and Mount Hood, one of the most popular hikes near Portland. The stunning Trillium Lake was created by a dam built across Mud Creek in 1960. Unless you walk this early in the morning, be prepared to share this trail with other day-users including paddle boarders, windsurfers, canoeists, boaters, inner tubers, kayakers, and swimmers. There is a small $5 day-use fee to use this park.
Distance: 1.9 miles
13. Wahclella Falls Hike
This gorgeous Oregon hike in the Gorge is an absolute must-do for outdoor lovers, and one of the best hikes near Portland. Starting at Wahclella Falls Trail from the Wahclella Falls Trailhead, you will definitely come across some steep dropoffs so keep your little ones close by. You will find the Munra Falls as well as an excellent view of Wahclella Falls.
Distance: 2 miles round trip
12. Abiqua Falls
I have yet to hike Abiqua Falls myself, but I cannot wait to explore this area and get a photo of this gorgeous waterfall. If you are hiking in Oregon this is an absolute must-do. It’s located in a natural basalt amphitheater, and the hike is less than one mile long. The trail is completely unsigned, and it’s a bit rough but well worth the hike in. Skip the first rough trail that leaves right from the end of the parking area, and down the hill, on your right, you will see a second trail dropping down through the trees. This is where you will start.
Distance: 0.8 miles
11. Natural Bridge Cove
Natural Bridges Cove – North Island Viewpoint (China Beach) Trail is a 2.6 mile point-to-point trail located near Brookings, Oregon. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking. As you can see in the photo this natural bridge is absolutely incredible to view.
Here’s a short video from some hikers in the past:
This cliff-bound section of Oregon’s Pacific coastline is part of the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor, and if you get a chance to hike this place it offers spectacular views.
Distance: 2.6 miles
10. Balfour-Klickitat Loop Hike
One of the coolest parts about this short loop near the mouth of the Klickitat River is the bald eagles that congregate here in January and February, feeding off the salmon run. During the spring the wildflowers here are quite beautiful as well. Two sons of the English lord Sir Thomas Balfour in the late nineteenth century purchased the land here. They planted prunes, wine grapes, and pears. In 1995 the U.S. Forest Service purchased the land. They removed some buildings and reseeded it with native plants.
You will enjoy great views of the Columbia River on this hike, as well as parasailors and also across to the Rowena bluffs and Tom McCall Point. The Klickitat River is located on the east slope of the Cascade Range in south-
Distance: 0.7 miles
9. Eagle Creek Trail
The Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge will eventually lead you to the gorgeous Punchbowl Falls. If you’d like to keep going, you can continue this trail to explore many other waterfalls as well. To no surprise, the Punchbowl Falls is frequently used on postcards and calendars. During the summer this place is very popular for hikers and also a favorite swimming hole for locals. From Eagle Creek-Lower Punchbowl Junction, you can follow the Lower Punchbowl Falls Trail (#441A) to get here.
Distance: 3.8 miles
8. Upper North Falls
Starting at the North Falls Trailhead, you must cross the North Fork of Silver Creek on a bridge to get to this beautiful place. Upper North Falls is the only waterfall in Silver Falls State Park that’s not on a trail loop. As it’s hidden away east of the highway, this hidden gem is often overlooked or forgotten by visitors, making it probably the most peaceful waterfall in the park.
Distance: 0.6 miles
7. Natural Arch Hike
Located in the Santiam State Forest, this spot is heavily managed for timber production. Discovered in 1951, the 50-foot tall, 40-foot wide arch is quite incredible. Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and vine maple predominate over a bear-grass, bracken and Oregon grape understory. As some of this hike can be steep, wood-reinforced steps have been put in place to help.
Distance: 1.0 miles out and back
6. Heart Lake Hike
NOTE: The area of this hike was severely affected by the extensive Cougar Complex Fire of 2015. Check on current conditions before attempting this hike.
This small forest lake is at the site of a former glacial icefall at the east end of Hellroaring Meadows. Starting at the Hellroaring Meadows Trailhead, this will lead you one mail into the gorgeous lake.
Distance: 2.0 miles
5. Lost Lake Loop Hike
Our list would perhaps be incomplete if we did not include Lost Lake. This scenic loop is probably one of the best Oregon hikes for young children, and there are plenty of places along the trail to stop and dip your feet into the lake. It goes without saying the views of Mount Hood are to die for. Campsites are also available here during peak summer months and in high demand. The starting point for this hike is at Lost Lake Trailhead.
Distance 3.2 miles
4. Ferry Springs Hike
This hike offers great views of the Deschutes River entering the Columbia River. It costs $5 to park for the day and $5 per night if you are backing. Nearby is Deschutes State Park if you’d like to camp and then do this as a day hike. The ranger recommended, to minimize the risk of vandalism, parking your car at the end of the road next to the T loop camping area below the camp host, or the parking area a bit before below the full time ranger residence.
Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
3. Sevenmile Hill Loop Hike
Sevenmile Hill stretches from Badger Creek to McCall Point on the Oregon side of the Columbia River and fronts a section of the Washington Gorge from the Klickitat River to The Dallesport scablands. There are no official trails between McCall Point and Badger Creek, although it is doable as a cross-country jaunt if you pay keen attention to private/public land boundaries.
Distance: 4.8 miles
2. Not Nasty Rock Hike
First and foremost, the Willamette National Forest’s Nasty Rock Trail #3356 does not go to Nasty Rock. However, at the end of this short and very steep path (2,500 feet in 1.6 miles) you will find a well-defined user trail to the interesting pinnacles of an unnamed formation on the ridge, here monikered (after the Cascade Rambler) Not Nasty Rock (Although many hikers believe this is Nasty Rock, the latter is still over a mile east along the ridge: see the Nasty Rock Hike). Not Nasty Rock is tricky to ascend since there is some exposure, but the talus slope below it offers vistas down the central Cascades to the Three Sisters: this is a remote, little-traveled route offering a great conditioning opportunity and ending with expansive views.1. Cape Kiwanda
Prepare to be dazzled as you venture the beautiful sandstones of Cape Kiwanda. This place is one of many incredible places to visit along the famous Oregon Coast. Behind the Cape you will find the Great Dune, a huge hill of mudstone and sandstone lakers cloaked in drifting sand with a toupee of salal and stunted Sitka spruce.
Distance: 2.2 miles
BONUS Hike – Bagby Hot Springs
The popular Bagby Hot Springs are natural hot springs located in the Mount Hood National Forest about 67 miles southeast of Portland. Not only is this a beautiful hike, but you will be rewarded at the end of this hike with a nice relaxing soak in the tubs, surrounded by Oregon’s beautiful forest. The hike in is only about 30 minutes, and is one of my favorite places to check out.
Check this article out here for all 46 hot springs in Oregon!
It’s important to plan ahead to stay safe while hiking and to fully enjoy your trip into Oregon’s wilderness. Here are some things to keep in mind to get the most out of your experience.
- Be sure to check that the trails you want to hike are open for the time of year you want to hike.
- Plan for inclement weather (rain, snow, cold, heat, wind). Always check the weather forecast for the are you want to hike before you leave on your trip and plan accordingly. You don’t want to get caught out in the elements unprepared!
- Let someone know where you’ll be going and when you plan to return.
- Take a friend to hike with you.
- Take the right gear. It’s important to wear good footwear, to dress in layers, and to have things like a first aid kit and flashlight with you just in case there’s an injury or you end up on the trail after dark. Taking an extra pair of socks is a good idea too in case yours get wet on the hike.
- Hike At Your Ability Level. Don’t try to tackle hikes above your skill level. Work yourself up to more difficult hikes, and when trying a more difficult hike than you’ve done before, or when hiking in a new place, take a friend.
- Practice Leave No Trace. Learn about the Leave No Trace principles here.
We hope this list will help inspire you to get out and enjoy an easy hike in Oregon.