After several days of rainfall and sickness for both of us, Maja and I were ready to tackle something not so hard. We ended up going to the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail in the Steigenwald Lake Wildlife Refuge. Part of the trail is closed for migration and breeding from October through April, but because the trail connects to the Columbia Dike Trail, you can walk as far as you want to.
The day we went out was sunny and chilly, a beautiful day. Most of the hike is not wooded, so be sure to take a hat. Quite a few people were roaming around with gigantic lenses on their cameras, taking pictures of wildfowl. On the day we were there, we saw ducks and geese, possibly a harrier hawk and an osprey, a large blue heron, and we just missed seeing an eagle.
Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail
Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge, WA
Distance: 2.8-mile loop trail, but connects to the Columbia River Dike Trail, so you can go farther; we walked about 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy peasy
Panting stops: 0
Elevation changes: 42 feet
The art along the trail appears occasionally. It was particularly marked on the first bridge, which had bronze insects along the rails. The trail begins with a marshy area where it looked like workers were digging more channels. I would guess that in the spring, this area is full of birds. We saw quite a few as we went in. In this area and later on, there are great views of Mt. Hood. After the marsh, the trail enters a small wooded areas before coming back out into the open.
The trail has two wooden bridges along which people were photographing birds. We also saw a very large nutria that was so accustomed to people that we had to walk around it on the trail. It was too busy eating grass.
This is a super easy trail, pretty much flat, dirt and gravel but very well kept. The eastern end of the trail was closed, but because the trail comes out onto the banks of the Columbia River at the Columbia River Dike Trail, which is seven miles long, you can walk farther. We ended up going east on that trail up to the end of it.
We had a beautiful walk on a gorgeous day, and we were glad to have found this really enjoyable trail.
How to get there
Go east on WA-14. just after the second traffic circle in Washougal, you will see the entrance to the wildlife refuge on your right.
Parking and Facilities
There is parking for twenty to thirty cars in the parking lot. There are also two pit toilets next to the lot. In the refuge, there are some benches formed from rocks. No dogs are allowed in the refuge, but they are allowed on the nearby Columbia River Dike Trail.