Places to hike with kids in Central Oregon

Shevlin Park: This park west of Bend off Shevlin Park Road offers flat, easy trails along Tumalo Creek.

Deschutes River Trail: This trail cuts through Bend on the north and south edges of town and can be a quick, easy outing with youngsters.

Todd Lake: Once the snow melts, the 1-mile loop around Todd Lake, off Cascade Lakes Highway past Mount Bachelor, offers a flat, easy and scenic hike, with views of Broken Top.

Sparks Lake: Just west of Todd Lake, Sparks Lake includes the paved Ray Atkeson Trail that is great for kids and includes stunning views of South Sister. Lingering snow could make access difficult.

Six Lakes Trailhead: This flat, meandering trail, located just south of Elk Lake along Cascade Lakes Highway, leads to Blow and Doris Lakes in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

West Metolius River Trail: Off of U.S. Highway 20 northwest of Sisters, the trail along the Metolius is a rolling, serene experience for young hikers and anglers.

Paulina Lakeshore Trail: East of La Pine in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, this 8.2-mile trail is flat and easy and offers views of Paulina Peak and the lake.

Sometimes friends and family members say things about my ­­ 8-year-old daughter that simply drive me crazy.

“She’s SUCH a girly girl!”

“You’re gonna have trouble with her when she’s a teenager!”


Miley is an outgoing ball of personality and is quite fond of clothes and shopping and hairdos and singing and dancing, and well, I guess things that make her a “girly girl” — whatever that means.

While I know I am not raising a tomboy — although I am impressed by her soccer and gymnastics skills — I don’t see any reason why I can’t instill a love of the outdoors in my little … girly girl.

It was high time I took her on a hike. She always has loved hiking, biking and camping with me, but it had been a while. Somehow in the mix of balancing school, work and sports activities, we had not been out on a trail in some time.

But I knew I needed to be careful and tread lightly — too long or ­arduous of a hike or too long of a drive to the trailhead and she might never want to go again.

After some map checking I settled on the North Fork Trail at Tumalo Falls.

I know what you’re thinking: real original.

But this trail seemed to offer quite a few things that make it kid-friendly: Except for the start, it’s not that steep, the payoff comes pretty quickly with several waterfalls along the trail, the trail is not that rocky or technical, and it’s just a 15-minute drive from Bend.

The trailhead was packed on a glorious spring day. We viewed the falls from the lower and upper viewpoints, then turned onto the North Fork Trail to start hiking in earnest.

Even for a crowded area, it was amazing how many fewer people we saw along the trail than we saw down by the falls. I guess many folks don’t bother with hiking.

Miley hiked quickly and with a sense of purpose. She took in views of Tumalo Creek and stopped to listen to the birds. She stayed with me even when I picked up the pace.

I could see my daughter changing before my eyes until ... that high-pitched scream with which many parents of 8-year-old girls are unfortunately familiar.


I grabbed the tiny insect off her shoe and threw it off the trail, then continued hiking and tried to pretend that didn’t just happen. Miley did the same.

We started to get a good rhythm going when she said this: “Have we gone 2 miles?”

I looked at my Garmin watch. “No, we’ve gone point 2 miles.”

“Oh. How much longer are we gonna go?”

I ignored the question and continued along the trail. Then, something happened that made Miley forget about the length of the hike — we arrived at Double Falls. She seemed to enjoy viewing the picturesque set of two waterfalls, while I fretted over her getting too close to the edge of the cliff side.

We ventured farther to ­Upper Falls, as Miley continued to ask when we would turn around and head back. I finally decided to do so after she asked for the third time.

The hike ended up being about 3 miles, and I think it was about the right length. I can take her on a longer, more adventurous hike next time, and work our way up.

I gave her a granola bar on the way back down to Tumalo Falls. As we got into the car she said, “Well, this was fun, right?”

Perfect. I know she’ll want to go again.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,