Wander Through Vibrant Wildflower Blooms on an Enchanting River Spring Trail in Oregon, Just Under 5 Miles Long

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Adventures, Family Fun, Featured, Forest Bathing, Hiking, Interesting, Mt. Hood, Things To Do, Travel

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Oregon is chock full of gorgeous trails to hike and explore, but finding one that's family friendly or accessible can be difficult. There's one pretty and accessible spot that's often overlooked as people travel up to Mount Hood. The Wildwood Recreation Area has two accessible trails, picnic areas, and an underwater fish viewing area, not to mention gorgeous views of the Salmon River and old growth forest! And the best part? Wildwood is just 30 minutes outside of Gresham.

The Wildwood Recreation Area Near Welches Oregon

An aerial view over Wildwood Recreation site on a cloudy day.
An aerial view over Wildwood Recreation site on a cloudy day. Photo by Greg Shine via BLM via Flickr CC2.

A lot of people prefer to head out hiking for the weekend within an hour of where they live.

The Salmon River at Wildwood Rec Site.
The Salmon River at Wildwood Rec Site. Photo by Greg Shine via BLM via Flickr CC2.

If you're in the Portland Metro area, that makes the Wildwood Recreation Area a perfect place to get away since it's about an hour drive from Portland, or thirty minutes from Gresham.

The Salmon River.
The Salmon River. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

This quiet little spot on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway is often overlooked by crowds heading to more popular hiking trails in the Mount Hood National Forest, though it shouldn't be.

A paved switchback trail at Wildwood Recreation Site.
A paved switchback trail at Wildwood Recreation Site. Photo by David Prasad via Flickr CC2.

Two family friendly and accessible trails are available at Wildwood, as well as a longer, more challenging hike for experts seeking a wilderness adventure.

A paved trail at Wildwood Recreation Area.
A paved trail at Wildwood Recreation Area. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

This 550 acre forested site is also a great spot to just sit and relax with family and friends for the day as there are picnic units, outdoor picnic kitchens, basketball and volleyball courts, fire rings, group shelters, grills and flush toilets on site.

A covered outdoor picnic area at Wildwood Recreation Area.
A covered outdoor picnic area at Wildwood Recreation Area. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

Visitors enjoy exploring the densely vegetated forest with old-growth Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar, as well as checking out the scenic views up and down the Salmon River.

Hiking At Wildwood Recreation Area

The Scenic Salmon River at Wildwood Recreation Area.
The Scenic Salmon River at Wildwood Recreation Area. Photo by Greg Shine via BLM via Flickr CC2.

Cascade Stream Watch Trail (Accessible)

The underwater fish viewing room at Wildwood Recreation Area.
The underwater fish viewing room at Wildwood Recreation Area. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

This accessible trail is family friendly and is the most popular option for a fun, educational walk in the area. Visitors will take a walk down a paved three quarter mile loop that is lined with educational displays.

A view underwater in the Salmon River.
A view underwater in the Salmon River. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

There are great river views on this trail, and an exciting underwater fish viewing window!

An underwater view of the Salmon River.
An underwater view of the Salmon River. Photo by David Prasad via Flickr CC2.

Kids and adults alike love to get a look under the water and check out fish as they swim by in their natural habitat.

Wetlands Trail (Accessible)

Dense vegetation in old growth forest at Wildwood Recreation Site.
Dense vegetation in old growth forest at Wildwood Recreation Site. Photo by Greg Shine via BLM via Flickr CC2.

For a trail full of pretty views, check out the Wetlands Trail. This trail is a three quarter mile loop that leads to the Boulder Ridge Trail.

A boardwalk trail at Wildwood Recreation Area.
A boardwalk trail at Wildwood Recreation Area. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

One of the cool things about this trail is that most of it is a boardwalk that zigzags it's way through a gorgeous wetland. There are great bird viewing opportunities here, as well as a ghost forest, and a cattail marsh where you might catch sight of a beaver dam. If you head out to hike this trail in the early spring, you should see a big patch of skunk cabbage in bloom!

Boulder Ridge Trail

This trail is for experienced hikers that want to get out into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and explore the steep slopes of Huckleberry Mountain. Boulder Ridge Trail is 4.7 miles and has a 2600 foot elevation gain. The trail leads up to a ridge where hikers are rewarded with views of Mount Hood and the Salmon River Valley. The trail ends at the junction with the Plaza Trail #738 which offers further opportunities for hiking.

Wildwood Recreation Area Information

  • Location: 65670 E Highway 26 in Welches, Oregon
  • Park Passes: You can purchase your passes online here (they must be printed out), or you can buy a pass at the park entrance with a credit card. No cash or checks are accepted.
  • Hours: Open from 8 AM to half an hour before sunset year round.
  • Get more information about Wildwood Recreation Site here.
A view of the tree canopy at Wildwood Recreation Site.
A view of the tree canopy at Wildwood Recreation Site. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

We think you'll also enjoy reading our Travel Guide To Mount Hood, as well as our guide to Little Crater Lake which is near Mount Hood. You may also enjoy checking out this cabin with pretty views of Hood.


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Written By Jessica Tomlinson

Jessica Tomlinson is a native Oregonian currently living in Southern Oregon. She has been blogging since 2006. She loves nature, photography, hiking, camping, and exploring Oregon's wilds.

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