Hikes with Kids: Audubon Society of Portland (Portland)

Nitty-gritty:

  • 3 different sanctuaries are host to various trails of different abilities and lengths.
  • You can connect the Audubon trails with the Forest Park Trails for even more adventure, including the Balch Creek Trail.
  • Wildlife Care Center gives families an up lose look at some of our native birds including a great horned owl, turkey vulture, raven and more.
  • Questions answered about all things natural (especially our native plants and birds).

The Audubon Society of Portland is one of our favorite places to take our visitors and to go when they are holding their native plant sales. Only recently have we started to venture out on their hikes. The land the Audubon society sits on is a lovely plot off Cornell Road in Portland and connects to Forest Park through various trails. There are a few trails on their property that are open to the public for hiking and exploring. What is very special about the area is, because the Audubon Society is devoted to conservation of the land, the trails are surrounded by all sorts of native plants and due to that, our native animals. Kids and parents alike can learn so much, and enjoy the bird song of the area.

On top of that, the Wildlife Care Center gives you an up close look at a few of our birds who are being cared for here. Many of them have been injured badly enough that they were rehabbed, but unable to be released back to the wild. They have outdoor pens where the various birds can spend a few hours a day enjoying some fresh air. There are signs telling visitors about the birds. They do talks about the birds and answer all of our questions. Special classes are offered through the Audubon Society covering a wide range of topics and summer camps in the summer are highly regarded. It is a great place to get more in touch with our nature without a long drive. 

We had never explored the Uhtoff/Collins areas before and decided to do the Founders Trail. Here is a link to their trail map so you can bring one along with you. The Founders Trail which takes you through a section of the Uhtoff Sactuary and is is about 0.8 miles and forms a complete loop from the Visitor’s Center. Just walk across the street from the visitors center and head to the left. You should see it easily. This sign is there too! Just a heads up, dogs are not allowed on the hiking trails here. If you were wanting to make this a longer hike you could connect to the Collins Trail making it a 1.3 mile loop.  We were coming off a hike at Hoyt Arboretum, and decided to just stick with the Founders Trail.

This hike is really one for older kids who have greater dexterity and coordination. I would recommend 7-years and up due to very uneven, sloped, narrow trails. You really have to watch your step, on occasion are having to jump over big mud pits and walk through some brush. Our nearly 8-year-old had a little bit of trouble in certain spots, but you know your child’s skills best and can decide if your younger kids will be able to manage. That said, it is an absolutely gorgeous area. 

They call this area “Pileated Woodpecker Alley” for all of the woodpeckers they see at the various snags in the area. We didn’t see any on our walk a few weeks ago, but the woods were teaming with life among all of the native plants.

When you return to the Visitors Center, there is another section for hiking in the Pittock Sactuary, which can be found heading down the trail between the visitors center and the Wildlife Care Center. These are excellent hikes for the younger kids to enjoy and many families can be found walking the trails named for our various native birds. The trails are a bit wider and much flatter. There is a lot of signage to tell you what you are looking at, or what to watch for. It is peaceful and really lovely. A walk along the creek on a hot day makes everything feel cooler.

Parking is limited in the area, so arriving early will assure you a spot for your short walks. The visitor’s center is great for learning a bit about the various animals and you can watch the Stellar’s Jays from the window. The store they have is great too: full of books, bird feeders, binoculars, gifts, and lots of things for kids. We highly recommend checking this out. If you are looking for directions on how to get here and the hours they are open, click here for advice from the Audubon Society.

We highly recommend spending some time here. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and help support all of their work, including caring for the rescued animals.

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