50 Hikes with Kids Oregon and Washington


By Wendy Gorton

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$24.99 CAD



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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 3, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Winner of the 2018 National Outdoor Book Award

Handcrafted for Northwest caregivers that want to spark a love of nature, 50 Hikes with Kids highlights the most kid-friendly hikes in Oregon and Washington. These hikes are perfect for little legs—they are all under four miles and have an elevation gain of 900 feet of less. Some are even accessible by stroller. Every entry includes the essential details: easy-to-read, trustworthy directions; a detailed map; hike length and elevation gain; bathroom access; and where to grab a bite to eat nearby. Full-color photographs highlight the fun things to see along the trail.


In 2006, when I was into my second year of teaching fourth graders, I became a PolarTREC GoNorth! teacher explorer. I packed up with a topnotch, experienced adventure crew, and we set out to spend two weeks dog sledding, interviewing locals about climate change, and collecting snowpack data. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to date, but it introduced me to the ideas about adventure learning pioneered by the University of Minnesota’s Dr. Aaron Doering.

My goal was to help interpret the experience for my students back in my classroom and students from around the world who wanted to feel a piece of real-life adventure. Every night, our dogs rushed us through the snow to the next research hut in the middle of Finland. Once inside, we peeled off our layers, cooked dinner from our meal rations, used our maps to plan the next day, and got a good night’s sleep. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but I still managed to take pictures, create podcasts, and even host a live webinar with my home classroom. Then as now, I studied each day’s route with the eyes of a child—finding the nooks that delighted me, asking myself big questions, documenting things that interested me but that I couldn’t identify on the spot, and pondering how to find out about them.

Ten years later, I was thrilled to be creating mini-adventures in my own backyard by writing this book for the kids of Oregon and Washington, helping them to become their own intrepid adventurers. The 2016–2017 winter in the region, however, was one of the worst in recent history, a playful jab from Mother Nature to let me know that even though my goal was to share beautiful Pacific Northwest wilderness with parents, caregivers, and kids, she wasn’t going to make it easy on me. That’s totally fine, because that’s the spirit of this book—not only enjoying getting out and getting dirty, but learning to be okay with all kinds of weather, things not working out according to your original plan, and pivoting instead of giving up. That is truly the adventurous spirit and life lesson I hope to spark in all kids.

My interest in helping to raise a generation of resilient, curious kids also extends to my day job in education, a field I chose because I want to make sure every child gets a chance to fall in love with a subject that resonates and to make it his or her life’s work.

The driving question behind this book is how we can design experiences that inspire wonder in our children. That is the question to keep in mind as you use this book, too. If we can provide a fun environment and the initial sparks of curiosity, we can—as educators, caregivers, aunties and uncles, grandparents, and parents—help children discover and explore the world around them and learn to appreciate natural beauty even from the youngest of ages. The aim of this guide is to give adults some tools to help ignite questions on the trail, to teach kids that it’s great to stop and look at things instead of just rushing from point A to point B, and to begin to introduce a broader understanding of just how many unique places we live near in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. By simply venturing out and interacting with kids along the trail, we are building the skills they need to learn how to question things they see around them—everywhere—and to look for answers.

Many of these adventures provide a taste of treks kids may embark on as college students or adults—imagine them summiting Mt. Hood or backpacking the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in a few years. In the meantime, this guide aims to provide kids of all ages a curated selection of some of the most varied and interesting destinations in the region, while reassuring busy adults about what exactly to expect from any given trail, the features they will see when they arrive, and the logistical details that can make or break an outdoor excursion. I hope you get a sense of the love steeped in these pages—the love for outdoors, the love for adventure, the love for planning and preparation, and the love for family and community.

My father was my co-adventurer on nearly every hike, tackling bathroom mishaps, downed trees, and often squeezing in up to four hikes a day to test and find just the right ones for this guide, as choosing which adventures to include was no easy task. The Pacific Northwest’s number of “kid-friendly” hikes is almost staggering, but I developed a firm Kid Filter of awesome features, simple driving and turnkey instructions on the trail so you’re not second-guessing yourselves, honest-to-goodness dirt on the bottom of your shoes and not pavement, and no interpretive signs, giving you a more adventurous and hike-like experience rather than a sterile stroll.

Many of us have seen the copious amounts of research about the benefits of getting kids outdoors more and interacting with the world in an open-ended way. As you romp with your own crew through the outdoors, just keep in mind that while the scavenger hunt items called out on each hike might help you to add excitement or learning opportunities to your hike, finding them all should not be the main goal of your outing. I wrote this book to help you get outside, spend time with your family, and have fun.

Kids lead more structured lives today than ever before in history. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see how much they enjoy simply being set loose in wide-open spaces. I hope this guide will help you foster curiosity and a love of nature in the kids in your lives and that it helps to raise our next generation of naturalists. Experiencing the wonders all around us creates lifelong habits of seeking out adventure, appreciating the gifts nature gives us every day, and caring about keeping our natural resources clean, beautiful, and accessible for many future generations as well.

All the scaffolds you’ll need to plan even more of your own adventures are here.


  • “Kids and parents will both love the suggested scavenger hunts along each trail.” —The Seattle Times

    “Easy-to-read maps, beautiful full-color photographs, and amusing scavenger hunts." —Portland Monthly

    “This book is the perfect companion for Portland-area weekend warriors.” —Portland Tribune

    “If you’re a Pacific Northwest family, or traveling out West this summer, this helpful and beautifully designed trail guide will inspire you to explore all that Oregon and Washington has to offer.” —Hike It Baby

    “A great travel companion when road-tripping with children.” —Northwest Travel and Life Magazine​

    “A fantastic guidebook.” —NW Kids​

On Sale
Apr 3, 2018
Page Count
280 pages
Timber Press

Wendy Gorton

Wendy Gorton

About the Author

Wendy holds a master’s degree in learning technologies and is a former classroom teacher. As part of her quest to bring science education alive, she worked as a National Geographic Fellow in Australia researching Tasmanian devils, a PolarTREC teacher researcher in archaeology in Alaska, an Earthwatch teacher fellow in the Bahamas and New Orleans, and a GoNorth! teacher explorer studying climate change via dogsled in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Today, she is a global education consultant who has traveled to more than fifty countries to design programs, build communities, and train other educators to do the same.

Learn more about this author