Top 5 Portland-area hikes to hold attention

Sep 3 • Newsroom • 911 Views • Comments Off on Top 5 Portland-area hikes to hold attention

By Noah Dolinajec

Hiking our area trails provide families and those with autism a great way to engage, be observant and take in the world around them while utilizing his or her strengths. Here are five hikes around the Portland area that offer an outdoor setting with nature-based activities to keep your child with special needs engaged. Outdoor activities provide a great opportunity for those with autism to immerse themselves in a never-ending environment of learning and wonderment.

Tryon Creek State Park Trail – Lake Oswego, Oregon
2.7 miles – App. 200-ft elevation gain – within Portland metro area – Easy terrain
Luckily, our metro area boasts some of the nation’s best urban parks and nature conservancies. One of the most beautiful and under used parks around Portland is Tryon Creek State Park. A 2.7-mile loop through the park is a great way to test out whether or not hiking is a good option for your child (if you haven’t already).
This route takes you along the creek and over some park bridges. Although there aren’t any notable destinations throughout the path, the foliage and creek itself are beautiful and diverse. The hike is easy terrain, but often muddy so keep that in mind when preparing for the hike. A change of clothes will more than likely be necessary for a clean drive home.
More information on this hike.
Warrior Point Lighthouse Trail – Between Warren and Scappoose, Oregon
7 miles – Out and Back Trail – No elevation gain – Easy Terrain
If a 40-minute drive is attainable for your child with autism, the Warrior Point Trail is a stunning representation of the Columbia River, Sauvie Island and all that comes with Northwestern Oregon.
The great thing about this trail being extremely accessible to hikers with special needs (and perhaps the less seasoned family members) is that there is no elevation gain and terrain is very manageable. The 7-mile out and back route might sound a bit long without the stimulation of physical challenge for your child. However, the path travels through a lively wildlife refuge and ends at an old lighthouse— both great inspirations for a child to keep moving a good pace.
(Note: the parking area for this hike does require an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife day pass which will cost you $7).
More information on this hike.

Wild Cherry Alder Loop – Portland, Oregon
5 miles – Loop – 450-foot elevation gain – Within Portland metro area – Easy terrain
It would be tyranny to not mention a Forest Park hike on this list. Forest Park – located close-in Northwest Portland, adjacent to the Alphabet District – is one America’s most stunning urban parks. The park covers just under 5,200 acres and is crowned as the largest urban “forest” in the country.

A comfortable excursion or introduction into hiking that engages kids with autism, Wild Cherry Alder Loop is a perfect option. With 450 feet of gain in the first half of the hike, this route is for those parents looking to challenge their child a bit more physically and provide sensory input. Often times, finding activities that are sensually stimulating and physically demanding can be a great combination for keeping the relatively long-term attention of your child.
More information on this hike.

Salmon River – Mt. Hood, Oregon
7.2 miles – Dogbone (Out to a loop and back again) – 950-foot elevation gain – Moderate terrain

Without question, this hike is challenging. The terrain is sometimes a bit dodgy and the trail itself has significant gain. This hike is for adults that are feeling especially testy and looking for something out-of-the-box to do with their ASD child. It is about an hour drive from Portland to the Old Salmon River Trailhead, and once there the hike is between 7-8 miles. Portions of the hike require extreme attention to your child with autism and are not for everyone—only those that seem to be extremely observant and interested in the outdoors.

That being said, this hike is gorgeous and the combination of physical difficulty and stunning scenery will be sure to give both you and your child something to focus on along the way.
More information on this hike.

Horsetail Falls – Cascade Locks, Oregon
2.6 miles – Loop – 610-foot elevation gain – Easy terrain
Don’t let the short length of this hike fool you. Although the terrain itself is not difficult, the steepness of this route will have you sucking wind. Fortunately, the physical demand is met with the sheer beauty of one of the most popular waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge.

You will be treated to three different waterfalls along an elevated hike, however close attention to your hiking partner with special needs is essential due to ridges leading to large drop-offs.
The great part about this hike is that is accessible just like Multnomah Falls, but draws significantly less users giving you and your child a free pass to nature.
More information on this hike.

Remember that those with disabilities are entitled to a free lifetime Access Pass to visit more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies. Visit their website to find out qualifying documentation needed and more information.

Comments are closed.

« »

%d bloggers like this: