For me, the most rewarding experience with kids outdoors has always been backpacking.

The car camp was great, the day hike was great and the fishing trip was great. But none of them capture the immersive quality of backpacking, where you put your camp on your shoulder off the road.

This seems to be especially true for younger children.

However, choosing the best place for your first, second, or third backpacking trip is not easy. You want a hike a few miles into the wilderness, but it’s not tough enough to make it fun. Ideally you need a good campsite near a mountain lake, but you don’t need a herd of mosquitoes. And ideally, once you get to the camp, you’ll need to do some additional work, such as swimming, fishing, and day hikes.

You can feel like a lot.

Here are 10 picks for a good backpacking destination for younger people (or those looking for an easier experience).

Two people helped with this list: Bonnie Henderson, “Best Hiking with Kids: Oregon, ”And the author of the next book,“ Hiking on the Oregon Coast Trail ”. And Franziska Weinheimer, the owner and operator of the outdoor website. Hiking Oregon..

Lower Twin Lake (Mt. Hood area)

This mountain lake near Mount Hood checks almost every box for a good backpacking option with young children. With 4.2 miles round trip, there is a 660-foot climb to the lake with plenty of campgrounds and trails around the lakeshore. There is also an easy option for longer trekking to the upper twin lakes.

“It’s just about perfect as a backpacking destination with little kids,” writes author Bonnie Henderson. “It’s not surprising that summer weekends tend to be crowded. Aim for weekdays or go early in the season (blooming rhododendrons) or early autumn (bring a warm sleeping bag).”

From the Frog Lake Trail Head, take a few steps before turning right to join the Pacific Crest Trail. Follow the Pacific Crest Trail 1.4 miles and pick up the Twin Lakes Trail. The trail reaches its peak at an additional 0.1 miles and begins its descent. At the next intersection, at 2 miles, go right to get off the lake. Follow the trails around the lake to find the campsite. Near the access trail, the shores of the lake are muddy. Go across the lake and walk along the gravel beaches.

Lake Pamelia (Mount Jefferson Wilderness)

A generation of children in the Salem region made their first backpacking trip to this beautiful lake beneath Mount Jefferson. This includes my 4-year-old kid who made his second backpacking trip here last weekend.

The hike is 4.4 miles one way and is quite long. It’s an adventure, but it’s not difficult, with a step-by-step climb of 800 feet to the lake. You can also hike the mossy virgin forest along the rolling lake of Pamelia Creek, with several designated campgrounds and views of Mount Jefferson from the southern coastline, which is fun to explore in the fall when the lake is low. You can see it.

Fishing is decent on the eastern side of the lake, and grizzly peaks and Hunts Cove have more challenging hiking options. It’s the perfect place to start growing your little feet and want to take on more challenges.

From May 28th to September 24th, you will need an accommodation permit purchased from to enter the trailhead. The Pamelia Lake Trailhead is located 16 miles west of Detroit, away from Highway 22 and Pamely Lake Road.

Lake Bobby (Lake Wald area)

According to Wayneheimer, mosquitoes storm in June and July, so target this clean lake near Lake Wald in late August or September.

A five-mile round-trip, near-horizontal hike takes you to one of the best swimming lakes in the state, says Weinheimer.

“Because it’s easy to get in and out of pristine turquoise water, it should be classified as one of the best swimming lakes in Oregon,” Weinheimer wrote to Hike Oregon.

Lake Bobby is right next to Forest Service Road NF-5897 (the main road to Lake Wald), a total of 5.5 miles from the fork on Highway 58.

After a two-mile forest hike on the Bobby Lake Trail, cross the Pacific Crest Trail and continue straight for a quarter mile to the shore.

“Looking at the lake, there are also some large flat tent areas where you can camp,” Weinheimer said. “If you want to enjoy swimming in the lake and camping a little more remote, go another quarter mile to the right around the lake until you see another campsite and a large rock falling into the lake. Once inside, it has a sandy bottom, a very comfortable entrance, and a very warm, shallow place for small children to play. “

See this page for more information..

Blue Canyon Basin (Sky Lakes Wilderness)

Sky Lakes Wilderness, with a slightly lower number of visitors in southern Oregon, offers many attractions not found in the people of Willamette Valley. The best place for kids on this lake land is the Blue Canyon Basin, just outside the small towns of Prospect and Butte Falls, northeast of Medford.

Here’s a short, fairly horizontal hike to Blu-ray, the most beautiful alpine lake — 4 miles round trip. If you can’t find your site here, don’t be afraid. Go down the trail to Lake Horseshoe or Lake Pear, both of which have sites. If you need longer trekking, proceed to Island Lake.

As with many other Southern Cascade areas, visit in late August or September to avoid scary mosquitoes.

Rogue River Trail (Southern Oregon)

Famous for its torrents, the river is also a great backpacker along the 40-mile Rogue River Trail. But don’t be afraid. You don’t have to hike that far. Start at the trailhead outside Grants Pass and hike until you reach a great campground with lots of small feet.

One thing to keep in mind is that the trails have a lot of exposure. Therefore, keep small children nearby and on the trail. However, the trail is beautiful from the start with the Grave Creek Boat Ramp and Trailhead northwest of Grants Pass.

Short camp options include Whiskey Creek (3.3 miles one way), Big Slide (3.8) and Russia Creek (5.7), but there are many more just below the trail. See this map for all the details you need.

5 more options

Threemile Lake (Oregon Dunes): Go backpacking on the Oregon Coast Three Mile Lake North Trail Explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The 6-mile loop begins here. This can be turned into a backpacking trip and has the best places on the beach of the lake itself.

“Trails provide views of freshwater lakes, moist areas in the woods, and ocean waves,” says the Siaslow National Forest website. “The trail wanders through a fairly tree-sized spruce forest, stopping at the calm Three Mile Lake and ending at Ocean Beach.”

The Three Mile Lake Trail and Takenitch Dunes Trail # 1353 can be combined into a 6.5 mile extended single loop trail.

Elma Bell Lakes (Three Sisters): Located in Three Sisters Wilderness, this group of lakes has campgrounds and multiple swimming lakes with access to forested trails. Access to the lake was closed by the Middle Fork Complex this summer, but the area has not burned and will resume next summer.

The trip is 4.5 miles round trip and is almost flat. It starts at Sukuk Mu Creek Campground, passes through waterfalls, through primeval forests, and reaches three beautiful mountain lakes. There are campgrounds at Lower El Mabel Lake, 1.7 miles from Trailhead, and Middle El Mabel Lake, the easiest place to access the lake and my favorite sites. Just ahead are the Lakes of Upper Elmabel, Williams and Otters.

Blue and happy lake (Diamond Peak Wilderness): Although often overlooked in the Diamond Peak Wilderness southeast of Eugene, Blu-ray Lake and Happy Lake are well-named. Swimming lakes and simple hikes offer a lot to the family, but again, it’s perfect for late summer or early autumn to avoid mosquitoes. Coming in early July will not be as happy as the experience at Happy Lake.

The hike to Blu-ray is only 2 miles round trip, while the hike to Happy Lake is 6.8 miles.

“These lakes to the west of Diamond Peak are easily accessible and have plenty of camping and swimming opportunities, but they are often overlooked.”

For full details, including directions See this page.

Island beach (Lake Wald): From Waldo Lake’s Islet Campground, follow the Shoreline Trail from a boat ramp to a collection of white sands submerged in the sun and the azure waters of Oregon’s clearest lake. There is at least one campground near Eilt Beach, the largest white crescent-shaped beach on the eastern side of Lake Wald.

Lake Marion (Jefferson Wilderness): Another true favorite of Mount Jefferson Wilderness, Lake Marion, has many of the same qualities as Lake Pamelia, but is about a mile away and offers views of Three Fingered Jack instead of Jefferson. I can do it. It’s 6 miles round trip, but it’s a very big lake and there’s a lot to explore nearby, so it can feel long. There are plenty of campgrounds, and you can also enjoy side trips such as hiking to Marion Falls and climbing Marion Mountain. This also requires an overnight permit from May 28th to September 24th.

Zach Urness has been an outdoor reporter in Oregon for 13 years and is the host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. Subscribe to the Statesman Journal to support his work.Urnes can be reached at Or (503) 399-6801. Find him on twitter @ZachsORoutdoors..