Elijah Bristow State Park – Dexter, OR

Every Sunday, we try to get our kids outside for a walk or a hike.  This week, we took the family to Elijah Bristow State Park, just off Highway 58 near Dexter.  We love Elijah Bristow State Park because there are so many kid-friendly hiking trails; they crisscross all over the park and you can walk as little or as far as you like.  Ten miles of trails trace the North Fork Willamette River, circle a beaver pond. and snake through the forest.

Kid-friendly hiking at Elijah Bristow State Park - Oregon

Most of the trails at Elijah Bristow are very kid-friendly and safe, as long as you’re watching out for horses.  Elijah Bristow is also an equestrian park and most trails are open to trail riders on horses.  We always see at least one horse, and this weekend we saw a lot of people on horses, but all of them are very friendly and will give you plenty of time to get your kids off the trail.  One important note…the trails are stroller-friendly, but many horses have never seen a stroller and can be spooked.  We always pull our stroller as far to the side as we can and stand in front of it when possible.

On this particular trip, we parked at the Beaver Pond trailhead and started by walking to–you guessed–the beaver pond.

Consulting the map at the trailhead.

A small viewing platform overlooks the beaver pond. We counted ducks and threw sticks in the water.

A lot of the trails at Elijah Bristow State Park meander through the park, joining other trails and leading to other trailheads.  We decided to just keep walking for as long as little legs were willing.  We have three little ones, ages 1, 2, and 3 but only a double stroller, so they take turns and when they’re all tired, we stop.

Kid-friendly hike with stroller

After a week of rain, the trails were muddy but still passable with a good stroller.

Kid-friendly hiking in the mud

My middle boys sure had fun stomping in every single puddle!

Happy child on kid-friendly hike on a muddy trail

I thought of all the muddy laundry there would be to do later (in all fairness, my husband does most of the laundry), but this smile reminded me that it’s important for kids to play and get dirty.

We stopped often along the trail, sometimes for horses and sometimes just because we found something interesting.  This tree fascinated all of us and we spent time playing around it and on it.

We moved on along the trail, encouraging the little boys to keep going.  They were getting tired and wanted to ride in the stroller, so we took a left turn to a parking lot and emerged from the trees onto a gravel parking lot in the middle of the park.

All told, we walked about a mile.  That’s a long way for toddlers!  It was also starting to rain, and indeed we arrived at our van just as the first drops fell.  A lady who we’d passed walking her dog wasn’t so fortunate…we saw her again and she was soaked.

Stroller-friendly hike at Oregon State Park

The green line is our approximate route, roughly 1 mile. Any of the trails here are great, and we take a different one every time we visit. This particular trail was great for strollers, if a bit muddy, and we had no trouble navigating the entire course.

And finally, just because.  My daughter and I worked on some new photography skills and these photos are too much fun to not post somewhere.