Family Friendly Waterfall Hikes - Central Oregon | Health, Love & Fire

Family Friendly Waterfall Hikes - Central Oregon

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go hiking. So when planning our summer vacation, finding family friendly hikes was at the top of our to do list. Before we headed out on our trip, I did lots of research on which hikes would be the best to take our daughter along with us. She just turned one and does great in the hiking pack, but its always important for us to remember that she's going to get hungry or might not handle the heat as well as we do. As we researched, we narrowed it down to three waterfall hikes that would be perfect stops on our trip. And even though we only made three stops, we actually saw more than 6 waterfalls on our hikes. So today I am sharing three great hikes in Central Oregon to do with or without kids.

Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls
You can actually see both of these falls in one stop on your trip. The two falls are about a mile apart, and theres a path you can follow that takes you on a three mile loop where you pass each falls twice. The path follows the Mackenzie River, where you walk just feet from the water and even on a hot day, it provides a cool climate for the hike. We parked at the Sahalie Falls trailhead and hiked past both falls to the reservoir where you cross a bridge to the other side of the river and hike a trail back towards the falls. You can access both of these falls right off highway 126 west of Sisters. The parking area was extremely full and we had to wait a few minutes for a spot to park. I would probably try to park at the Koosah Falls parking area if we went again as we heard this was less crowded. Overall it was a fairly easy hike with some gorgeous views.
Tumalo Falls
You can view the falls just a short walk from the parking area, and after about a 1/4mile hike with some elevation climb the trail takes you right up next to the top of the waterfall. You can continue up the trail where you pass several smaller waterfalls. We saw many other hikers and quite a few mountain bikers during our hike. This trail is outside of Bend, and only took us about 25 minutes to get there. The parking area does fill up rather quickly, but there are spots to park along the road as well. We really liked this hike because of the gorgeous waterfalls and the fact that you could choose your own distance. It is an out and back hike, so you can hike as long as you want and then turn around to head back to the car.
  • The Forest Service provides great information on getting to the trail head, parking and the trail itself.

Proxy Falls 
Proxy Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls we've seen this summer. It's just a 1.25 mile loop that has two additional paths that take you to the upper or lower part of the falls. With a hiking pack on, some of the trails down to the lower falls were a little tricky, but still managable. This hike is definitely a little more off the beaten path, just east of the Mackenzie River in the middle of the Cascades. We took the highway from Sisters, which provided a gorgeous scenic route to the hike, but I would recommend researching a quicker route if you're interested in doing this hike. It is definitely worth the drive though, because it's easy to see why it's one of Oregon's most photographed waterfalls.
  • This falls can be a little difficult to find, as we hoped we weren't completely lost on our way there. So make sure to check out the Eugene, Cascades and Coast website for location information before you head out! 

Each one of these hikes made for absolutely gorgeous views. I think Proxy falls was probably our favorite of all of them, but it took the longest to get to. Sahalie and Koosah Falls were nice because you got to see two falls in a short loop. But we loved how large Tumalo falls was and that the trail followed the river upstream so that you could see several other waterfalls along the trail and choose the length of hike that you were up for that day. I honestly would go back and visit each of these trails and found them perfect to do with a child. Oregon is such a gorgeous state, make sure to get out and enjoy it if you get the opportunity! 

What are your favorite hikes to do with kids? 


  1. I feel like those Proxy falls kind of look like Ramona falls in the Gorge. Do you like the hiking pack you use? I've started researching some and while I've heard it's best to try them on, only a handful are actually available in-store.

  2. I love hiking to a waterfall and these are AMAZING!! Much bigger than what we have here in NC :)

    xo, Kristina
    Medicine & Manicures

  3. This is great! We love hiking too so I'll keep these in mind for the next time we're in that part of Oregon!

  4. Oregon has so many gorgeous waterfalls!!