January: Spencer Butte. The Ridgeline Trail system includes more than 12 miles of trails, but on a clear, cold January day, we chose the 1-mile short but steep trek through old-growth Douglas fir to the rocky outcropping at the summit, where the dramatic panoramic view of Eugene and mountain peaks can’t be beat.
February: Hobbit Trail. Winter is by far my favorite time to visit the Oregon Coast. When the weather was gray in the valley one February day, we packed up and headed to sunshine in Florence and one of our favorite hikes at Washburne State Park. The Hobbit Trail is an easy half-mile walk through mossy trees that ends at a wide, flat beach.
March: Horsetail Falls Loop. On a beautiful March day, we headed to the Columbia River Gorge for this popular 2.5-mile loop trail that begins at Horsetail Falls and continues past Ponytail Falls, Oneonta Falls and the Oneonta Gorge.
April: Mount Pisgah. The walking paths and wildflower meadows below are always beautiful, but on this visit, we challenged our little hikers to tackle the entire 1.4-mile moderate-to-difficult hike to the summit.
May: Tire Mountain. The entire trail is 7.6 miles, but we did an easy 2-mile out and back that offered the most rewarding views of the surrounding mountain peaks. We were there just before the spring flowers were in bloom, but it was clear that the cliffsides were about to explode into a carpet of vibrant wildflowers.
June: Bohemia Mountain. A 2-mile trip led to 360-degree views of the Cascade Mountains from Mt. Shasta to Mt. Hood. The ghost town of Bohemia City, a former mining town, is below and can be accessed from here, as well as an old fire lookout tower. In June, we spotted many variety of succulents, blooming trillium and butterflies.
July: Fort to Sea Trail. We celebrated a very important 4th birthday in Astoria this year that included an easy hike on part of the Fort to Sea Trail. Beginning at Fort Clatsop, the 5-mile trail follows the path of Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery, ending at Sunset Beach. There are one, two and 4-mile round-trip options as well, depending on how much discovering you’re looking for.
August: Waldo Lake Trail. Surrounded by acres of wilderness, Waldo Lake is one of the purest lakes in the world and one of my favorite places in Oregon.
Multnomah Falls, Historic Columbia River Highway 08-1 by Sumio Koizumi
September: Multnomah Falls. You can take the easy walk up to the bridge, or tackle the 1.2-mile, steep trip the top to see Oregon's most famous waterfall.
October: Fort Stevens State Park. What was once the primary military defense installation for the Columbia River is now a 4,200-acre park that has become one of my family’s favorite places in Oregon. You can explore everything from a Civil War-era fort and turn-of-the-century concrete batteries to the historic shipwreck of the Peter Iredale to the South Jetty, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River.
November: Crescent Lake. While we were hoping for a snowshoeing adventure over Thanksgiving weekend, the crisp, clear trek around Crescent Lake and the surrounding trails did not disappoint.
December: Wahclella Falls. After a holiday trip to Hood River, we stopped at this 2-mile easy trail that passes Munra Falls (we call it ‘surprise falls’ because you turn a corner and it’s suddenly so close to you that you can feel the water spray), then continues to Wahclella before looping back.

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 author Emily Forsha

Emily Forsha is Travel Oregon’s Content & Community Manager. When she’s not road tripping around the state with her husband and two young 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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