7 Great Hiking Trails To Consider (+ 12 Safety Tips For Successful Hikes)

MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL

MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL

We made our first visit to McKenzie Trail this weekend and it did not disappoint.  The entire trail is comprised over over 26 miles, but as this was just an afternoon trip, we decided to start at the beginning and hiked a total of 5.2 miles.

Those 5+ miles were an overall easy hike along the McKenzie River.  If you have never seen it before, the McKenzie River is gorgeous.  With stunning blue/green colors unlike any river I have seen, it is a fast moving, rapid filled river in some places and completely serene the next.  I thought that this was one of the more peaceful hikes we have done.

Because there wasn’t a lot of uphill/downhill climbs the kids stayed happy and excited throughout the trip.  Our son, who is the normally whiny one, didn’t complain once.  That is a win in our book! :)

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MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL

My only issue with this trail is that it was very narrow and shared with many mountain bikers.  We had to step off the trail quite often to let them pass.  Not a huge issue, but it made some of the progress slow going.  That being said, I just love the people that you pass on trails, all of the bikers were very kind and every one of them made sure to tell us how many others were in their group so that we knew what to wait for.

MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL

Throughout the trail, when not next to the river we passed through beautiful and serene scenery with sunlight streaming through.  The kids kept commenting that it felt like we were in a rain-forest.

We stumbled into a lot of old timber.  Many of the trees were actually quite concerning as they appeared to be rotten, beautiful none-the-less though.

MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL

I know that further down the trail there are some stunning blue pools of water.  We will definitely be returning soon to see those!

THOR’S WELL – CAPE PERPETUA

THOR’S WELL – CAPE PERPETUA

We had quite an adventurous weekend!  One of our adventures included visiting Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua, which is located on Hwy 101, roughly 15 miles north of Florence.

We started out this little trip by strolling through the visitor center which in itself was very cool.  We got to see some ancient tools used by Native Americans and settlers, plus bones from different whales, which our son just loved.  Have you ever seen the skull of a whale?  Wow..they are massive!

Anyway….from the visitor center, there is a 1 mile loop paved walking trail that takes you down passed the tide pools to several view points where you can see Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn.

THOR’S WELL – CAPE PERPETUA

We visited at a perfect time to see Thor’s Well up close as it was low tide and we could get close enough to take pictures of it without worrying about big waves coming up (we were careful to watch for any sneaker waves, of course).

THOR’S WELL – CAPE PERPETUA

These progression shots show what a beautiful place this really is.  It is almost magical or mythological (hence the name).

Because we were there at low tide, we missed out on Spouting Horn, so I guess that is for another day, but I am so excited to have visited this gorgeous place!  If you are visiting the Oregon Coast, this is a stop that is not to be missed.

THOR’S WELL – CAPE PERPETUA

This trail is an easy one that is both stroller and wheelchair accessible, but enough to give you a little workout!

DRIFT CREEK FALLS

DRIFT CREEK FALLS

Drift Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall hike located in the Coastal Range Mountains about 20 miles outside of Lincoln City, Oregon.

DRIFT CREEK FALLS

A 2.5 round trip moderate hike, Drift Creek has several great picnic areas (bring lunch!) along the way and a beautiful suspension bridge over the Falls.  I am a sucker for bridges, so this is perhaps my favorite part of the hike.  You can feel a slight sway to the bridge as you are passing over it, which only adds to the excitement.

DRIFT CREEK FALLS

We have been to this trail several times and feel very comfortable bringing the kids here.  We often see dogs along the trail as well.  Not many steep cliffs to be concerned about.

About 10 miles west of Lincoln City, you will see a sign leading to Drift Creek Falls.  Turn S on Bear Creek Rd and follow it for roughly 7 miles.  I will become a one lane gravel road and you will see trailhead signs along the way.  Along the way, you will feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere, but you will be surprised how many other hikers you will encounter there.  It is a very popular hike. 

*There is a $7 parking fee, so be sure to bring cash or checks.

BASKETT SLOUGH NEAR DALLAS OREGON

We were on our way home from getting groceries in town last week, and decided to stop by a local spot for a short hike, or more accurately a nature excursion.

Baskett Slough is a National Wildlife Refuge approximately ten miles west of salem. According to Wikipedia “The Refuge consists of 1,173 acres (4.75 km²) of cropland, which provide forage for wintering geese, 300 acres (1.2 km²) of forests, 550 acres (2.2 km²) of grasslands, and 500 acres (2.0 km²) of shallow water seasonal wetlands and 35 acres (0.14 km²) of permanent open water.” Many different animals and birds call this refuge their home.

BASKETT SLOUGH NEAR DALLAS OREGON

I paused part of the way up the trail to take a picture of the scenery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BASKETT SLOUGH NEAR DALLAS OREGON

Took a picture on the way back down to show the colors of the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BASKETT SLOUGH NEAR DALLAS OREGON

Family posing for a picture up at the top of the trail. Nothing beats these family trips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although we were only taking an hour to go for a walk, Basket Slough is a beautiful place to spend some time. There are more trails that wind up through the woods, as well as the main trail that winds up to the top of a viewpoint. I would say this trail would be easily accessible for most everyone and rated Easy. It does climb some in elevation from the parking lot to the viewpoint, but it is a well manicured trail and isn’t steep by any means.

Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or just want to take the family to see the beautiful scenery, Basket Slough Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful destination. If you want to see several places in one day, see some of our other trail destinations in the area, particularly Beazel Memorial Park.

BEAZELL MEMORIAL FOREST

BEAZELL MEMORIAL FOREST

Beazell Memorial Forest Trail is one of my favorite trails for two reasons.  One, it is very close to where we live, so we have easily been able to do this hike many times.   Two, the story behind this trail is a beautiful one, full of love and romance.  In addition, you will find the historical Plunkett House, and a restored Plunkett barn that can be rented out for weddings and events.  (We actually saw inside of this barn before and it is simply stunning.)

In total there are 3.5 miles of trails to hike.  Our favorite trail is to go over the first bridge and turn right along the creek, you will pass a gazebo and walk through a well maintained trail through forest land.  Continue along the trail and stay to the left once you come to a trail junction.  The climb is steady, but not severe and once you hit the summit it is well worth it. At the summit take the trail junction to the right and head down toward the creek.  You will cross over two more wooden bridges and to the north you will see an old car that had crashed along the bank many years ago.

This trail loop is approximately 2 miles and can get very muddy when it has rained. (Our kids loved doing this trail in the rain though, so there are benefits).

OREGON’S NIAGARA FALLS & PHEASANT CREEK FALLS

OREGON’S NIAGARA FALLS & PHEASANT CREEK FALLS

Did you know that Oregon has a Niagra Falls?  We do and it is gorgeous!

We decided to take a trip to the famous named falls and see what all the fuss was about and let me tell you, it was worth it!

Niagara Falls Trail is located outside of Beaver, which is near Tillamook.  This trail is two miles in and back.  A relatively easy hike (some elevation change), you get the opportunity to view two beautiful falls in less than an hour’s hike!

Start at the well marked trail head, head out into a well maintained trail.  At near the one mile point, you will cross a bridge which leads to Pheasant Creek Falls.

Many say that Pheasant Creek Falls is the less spectacular of the two falls, I am not sure that I agree.  You are up close and personal with this first set of falls, feeling the mist on your face while passing over the bridge.

Just passed Pheasant Creek Falls, you turn a corner the trail end point, which also has a lovely little picnic spot overlooking Niagara Falls.  Niagara Falls is a 112 foot drop style falls.

OREGON’S NIAGARA FALLS & PHEASANT CREEK FALLS

We visited this trail in February, which was a great time, because due to the streams’ water levels, Winter and Spring are by far the best times to visit.

If you are looking for a date idea for you and your honey, I just love the idea of this hike for a Springtime date.  How many of us can say that we went to Niagara Falls for a date? ;-) Food for thought.

Directions to trailhead: From Beaver, Oregon,  travel East on Blaine Road for approximately 6 miles (you will see signs). Continue East at Blaine Junction on Upper Nestucca River Road for approximately 5.8 miles to Forest Service Road 8533 (Faded marked sign). Travel south approximately 4.3 miles to Forest Service Road 8533-131. Follow signs and turn right at the junction and travel 0.7 miles to trailhead.

ALSEA FALLS & GREEN PEAK FALLS

We try to hit up a hiking trail at least once every weekend. Sometimes we do trails that we have done before, but sometimes we seek a new adventure! This past weekend, we all wanted a new adventure, so we decided that we would travel to the Alsea Falls Recreation Site, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house.

Oh my goodness was it worth it!  At the starting point of the trail, you veer off to the left and immediately see Alsea Falls which is a gorgeous and easily accessible set of Falls with lots of rocks to sit and picnic or just sunbathe on.

ALSEA FALLS & GREEN PEAK FALLS

You then can rejoin the trail to make the 4.2 mile round trip to the Green Peak Falls which are stunning, plus there is a great pool of water to swim in at the bottom which the kids loved!

There are some sketchy spots along the trail so if you do bring your kids, keep hold of them, but the trail overall was pretty easy.  This is definitely a hike we will do again!

*This trail had a $3 day use fee.  Be sure to bring exact change!  All we had was a $5, so I guess we tipped the rangers that day :)

SAFETY TIPS FOR YOUR HIKE

Hiking is a super fun way to explore nature and to get healthy!  It is important though, to remember to follow these simple safety tips to be sure that your adventure remains a safe one.

Also read: 10 Trail Running Essentials for Safe Mountain / Backcountry Adventures

Do not hike alone.  This is especially true for novice hikers.  If you are going to a new place and you are unsure of your path, call in a hiking buddy!  If you do choose to hike alone, choose a trail that sees a lot of traffic.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.  If you are going alone, or even in a group, be sure that someone knows where you are headed and how long you plan to be gone.

Be sure that your vehicle has plenty of gas.  This one seems like a given, but it is important to fuel up before you go.  Many trails are off the beaten path and it is possible to get turned around on your way.  Be sure you are not going to run out of gas before you even get there.

When you get to your destination, be sure to stay on marked trails.  Not only does creating your own path cause environmental damage, but it also highly increases your risk of getting lost.

Wear good socks/shoes.  Blisters are no fun.  They can literally make a hike feel like torture.  If you are planning to do a lot of hiking, invest in quality hiking boots/shoes and good socks to go along with it.

Bring plenty of water.  It is important to always take enough water with you to prevent dehydration.  Even if it is cold outside, you still need plenty of fluids, especially if you are on the trail longer than you had intended to be.  On the same note, consider bringing a water purification straw or tablets in case an emergency occurs and you need to drink stream water.  We like to bring hydration packs for each hiker in our group.

Never climb on rock walls or waterfalls.  Do not take extra risks that may cause you to fall and become injured.  Plus, climbing on unmarked areas can cause environmental damage.

Bring a Whistle.  All hikers, especially newbies and children, should carry a whistle.  They are extremely lightweight and in case of emergency, take much less energy than yelling.

Layer your clothes.  Temperature changes can happen quickly.  It is important to be dressed appropriately.  Lucky for today’s hikers, there are lots of clothing options made specifically for hiking.

Never leave your group.  We always hike as a family, often with others.  It is imperative to never leave your group, because while no one expects to get lost, it isn’t unheard of.

Be bright.  Wearing colors helps keep you visible to possible hunters in the area, plus in the case of emergency, you will be easier to spot.

If the weather turns bad during your hike, turn back.  Waiting it out can have dire consequences if you become wet or cold in the elements.

It is also a good idea for each hiker to bring along their own safety kit. These can be compact and easy to pack and should include:

  • Whistle
  • Mini first aid kit
  • small flashlight and glowstick
  • food (granola bar, etc)
  • packable plastic poncho

This is the kind of feedback I love getting from my readers.

Katie

Sometimes I wish I lived in a place that you could go ‘hiking’ here you literally can’t call it that as it’s most definitely always just a ‘walk’ I’d love to go hiking in America, depending on how cary we’re talking…!

Lisa

These are great things to know! Some of them I would have never thought of, like bringing a whistle or making sure you have enough gas. I’ve never run out of has, but it’s been close haha.

Ashley

These are such great tips! Last October I completed my first big hike – 22.26 miles in 10 hours! We hiked to raise money for my cousin who has Cystic Fibrosis and I loved it! We are doing it again this year!

Bethany

I love the whistle tip. Hiking is something I’ve done my whole life and I never thought to bring one!

Laurie

I’ve done a lot of hiking. Good solid advice!

Keelie

Awesome awesome tips. I hope I can do some light hiking with my boys this summer. Water is always such a difficult thing, because it weighs so much. I know I struggle with bringing enough for me and my three boys and husband. Got any solutions on how we can pack more?

Admin

Keelie – I have found that the absolute best way is with hydration packs or Camelback backpacks. When worn as a backpack, it is not as heavy as you would think. They make small ones for kids and you can drink from the straw while you hike. :)

If you prefer to carry a water bottle, I highly recommend Hydroflask. They keep your water ice cold for the length of your trip! I have had ice water keep for over 30 hours in mine before. :)

Deb

I’m not much of a hiker anymore, but from past outings I know your tips are spot on. The whistle idea is great! Visiting from Commentathon. I’m really enjoying finding new great sites.

Laura

It has been ages since I’ve been hiking. This is a nice post and makes we want to explore nature again. It is great to have a checklist.

Cami

These are great tips! I’m not much of a hiker, but I guess that’s who these tips are mostly for. If I ever decide to go hiking now I know the proper way to do it!

Bonnie

Great tips! I grew up hiking and I love taking my girls hiking, but we definitely stick by these rules. So important to stay together and to wear good shoes! I’ve hiked through rain a lot of times, but one trip that almost turned bad as some people weren’t prepared. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer

The whistle is definitely a great idea! These are all wonderful tips! I will keep these in mind when my husband and I go hiking later on this year!

Staci

My son is really into hiking and we’ve talked about most of your tips here, but I think I need to ask him if he has a whistle in his gear! And hello from Boring (OR)!

Jennifer

We do quite a bit of hiking/walking on trails in the summer when it’s not raining all the time. I never thought about giving our kids whistles. Good idea! Thanks!

Jaim

I never thought about the whistle, but that is a great idea. Thanks for the tip.

Val

I’ve hiked up our little mountain many times alone and found it so unsettling that I now carry a little semi-automatic. One day I hiked into the wooded part of the mountain and there was a man with a dog walking along in the woods. Oh my, I realized I was at risk! You have some good advice listed and I do most of it, having learned over a dozen hikes. Instead of a whistle, I carry a screecher by MACE. Your advice about wearing bright colors is one I’ve not done but probably should. This was a useful article, thanks.

Katisha

Great post! I will keep this in mind if I ever go hiking,

Amy

These are great tips. I love taking the kids for long walks however, we don’t live in a great area for hiking! it is my goal this year to take a trip to the woods so we can all enjoy the fresh air!

Ashley

I love these tips, thank you! I’m a new girl scout troop leader and this will come in handy for camping and even nature walks.

Michelle

What a great read. I am going hiking in June and I loved reading what you had to say. Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous

Good advice. I’d just add to stay to the tracks. Very obvious I know but so easy to be tempted to take a short cut if the weather changes suddenly.

Barbara

I have never hiked, before but am sure this is something my kids would love to do. They like being outdoors. My husband and I need to plan to do this this year. Thanks for the tips. Safety first.

Angela

Here in Colorado we hike a lot. We don’t usually go on really long ones but these are great tips for all hikes. You can get lost even if you think you know where you are going. I have done that before and was not prepared at all. Being prepared is always a good thing.

Lisa

These are good tips to remember especially since my family is planning on hiking and camping more this spring and summer. I like the tip about bringing enough water even if its cold outside. Sometimes people underestimate having enough water especially when they think it’s not a hot day.

Michelle

This is such an important list. We were hiking with our kids this weekend and had to have this exact talk when they decided to wander off ahead of us. I’ll be sharing our experience soon and would love to link to this post!

Cristin

We bought my son a ski jacket that came with a whistle attached inside one of the pockets. I’d never thought about what a great idea that is for outside adventures.

Shelle

Oh, I love preparedness and the Pacific NW is my home! I’m in Texas and miss pine trees. Thanks for the great information, I’m sharing it on my social media accounts right now.

Beth

These look like great tips for hikers or even runners and fitness walkers.

Whitney

Awesome tips! What was your favorite hike? I assume you’ve been on quite a few. :)

Admin

I have been on roughly 50 trails so far, many of which I have done multiple times. I plan to visit many more this year! :) That is a great questions, albeit a tough one. My absolute favorite so far has been Abiqua Falls trail, which I will post about soon. My favorite for a family hike though was Sweet Creek Falls which I am working on a post for. It was gorgeous and had a new waterfall type feature at nearly every bend. It was beautiful. :)

Robyn

I do a lot of hiking in the PNW and these are great tips for all hikers. Even the most experienced hikers sometimes need reminders of the basics and good common sense. Great to find your blog!

Pam

I have hiked some small trails with my kids but have never ventured out for a REAL hike. :)Great tips if I do! :)

Chellie

I love the whistle idea, although my kids would probably blow it constantly! LOL. This post makes me want to find some trails to hike.

Cristina

I would LOVE to go hiking but it’s always intimidated me for exactly the dangers you infer. You do make it seem like if you’re prepared though, you should be good. Not to mention once you get to your destination the views far outweigh the fear, no?

Kelly

Great post – pinning now.
Love getting out in the woods with the kids, but its always important to be prepared

Felecia

I have never been hiking, don’t really have place to hike in the Sunny South in Florida. It is something I would like to do. Thanks for sharing these tips. :)

Kelly

I loved hiking and going out for runs. Even on my long runs, I still had a bag packed with the essentials. I even had a thermal mylar blanket, just in case

Staci

LAYERS!!! Yes. Oh yes. There’s nothing worse than starting a hike in shorts, when it’s super chilly in the morning, just because you know how hot it will be by the time you’re halfway through your hike!

Phyllis

Hiking has always been a favorite pastime of our family.
Thanks for sharing all these great ideas.

Crystal

These are some really great tips. I would never have thought to bring a whistle along, but it is a great piece of advice. I am going to have to get some whistles for my kids and I!

Admin

Whistles can be a great tool in lots of situations. :) Hiking is a great example, but they could also be really good in heavier traffic areas like amusement parks, etc. They can be a great tool if your kids are lost in the crowd or if, heaven forbid, a stranger got too close. Like a previous reader commented though, unless your kids start blowing them for fun lol

Shannon

This is great. I’m not much of a hiker myself but you should always be prepared no matter what the situation. Thanks for sharing!

Alice

Great tips! Its important to remember that hiking is not the same as going for a walk and you have to plan ahead for potential emergencies. Also, don’t forget sunblock!

Maketta

I have never been hiking but my mom and brother went to Yosemite some years ago through a program for young teens (my brother was a teenager then). Your tips remind me of some of the things that they had on their hiking/camping trip. Layering up was one of the things they had to do because my Mom said it would get really cold at night in Yosemite.

Sophie

Wow yes – a couple of hikes since travelling have been totally under equipped for. It only leads to sore sunburnt shoulders and blistered feet – not cool! These are really helpful, thanks!

Trena

Here where we live, you don’t go without a gun, because the bears are a problem. They’ll even just come out in our yard!

Admin

Wow! Bears are that common there? Bears are a beautiful animal, but not to be messed with. That sounds like an excellent choice for safety then! :)

Elizabeth

Thank you for sharing these tips. I am going to share this with my husband. He loves to go hiking and I always find myself worried about him when he goes alone.

Lauren

These are great tips. I will keep these tips in mind — I’d love to take my kids hiking over the summer!

Christina

Great tips. I’m trying to be more of an outdoors person so good thing I have a list of things to make sure to do before I start on my adventures

Melissa

I am not much of a hiker but I do want to start. These tips will come in handy.

 

 

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