My little family of four is busy. The four of us collectively manage three jobs, two schools and a seemingly endless stream of soccer practices, birthday parties and homework. We spend a lot of time together, but a lot of it is spent rushing to the next thing. So last year, we made a pact to spend one day every month together to slow down and do something just for us: a family hike.

It sounded pretty easy – one hike for each month. And so it amazed me how difficult it proved to fit it in. There were several months that we literally only had one day free on the calendar to get out and hit the trail. There was more than one month that I would have preferred to curl up on the couch and read a book or watch a football game or clean out my fridge. There were a few cold days, a few tired days and a few wrong turns (never put me in charge of a map and expect it to go smoothly).

But something amazing happened, too. No matter how busy we were, the four of us spent one day together every month doing nothing more than exploring the outdoors and laughing. We climbed to the top of buttes and behind waterfalls. We saw carpets of wildflowers, frozen lakes and watched the sun set over the ocean. And on New Year’s Eve, when I asked our boys to reflect on the past year, these hikes were what they said they would remember most about it.

Learn more about the hikes in this slideshow:
Spencer Butte
Hobbit Trail at Carl G. Washburne State Park
Horsetail Falls Loop
Mount Pisgah
Tire Mountain
Bohemia Mountain
Waldo Lake
Multnomah Falls
Fort Stevens State Park
Crescent Lake
Wahclella Falls

We’re planning on our tackling our monthly hike again in 2014.  Here are a few that we have on our wish list:
Watchman Peak Trail at Crater Lake
Smith Rock
North Umpqua Trail
Drift Creek Falls
Cascade Head

About the Author: Emily Forsha

Emily Forsha is Travel Oregon’s content editor and a runner, hiker and biker of many Oregon trails. When she’s not road tripping around the state with her husband and two little boys, this proud native Oregonian is cooking up new recipes in her kitchen, sampling the latest craft brews and cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks.

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  1. Cari Soong says…

    Great hiking! You should add Brice Creek with the loop to Upper Trestle Creek Falls to your list. It’s beautiful out there.

    Written on January 24th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  2. Tabitha says…

    Nice. We did Drift Creek and Watchman last year. Two of my favorite hikes of the year – and we’re also hiking with two little people. Have you looked at doing Opal Creek? Fairly easy hike but fun for kids.

    Written on February 7th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  3. Skip says…

    You have got to do Eagle Creek at Cascade Locks. It will make Horsetail Falls Loop look tiny. Don’t know what distances you are hiking but the most spectacular waterfall is Tunnel Falls at about 6 miles. There is a tunnel that runs behind the falls. Have your kids put there hands on the rock inside the tunnel. You can literally feel the power and the energy in the basalt rock. Punchbowl Falls on a side trail is a rain forest dream anytime of the year.

    Written on February 7th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  4. Lori Stone says…

    My favorite river back home is the Metolius and if you start at the head waters make sure you stop on the bridge when you get to the fish hatchery…INCREDIBLE!!!

    Written on February 7th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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