A beautiful day along the river

In the middle of the photo, you can just barely see Mt. Hood, but in actuality, it is very noticeable as you hike this trail.

I haven’t had a new hike to report in a while, but this last week we decided to hike the Columbia River Dike Trail, part of which we were on last fall at the end of our Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail at Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge. This is an easy but beautiful hike, although part of it runs along an industrial area on the north side of the Columbia River. Mt. Hood shines over us on the entire hike.

Columbia River Dike Trail

Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington

Distance: Sources vary on this. I’ve seen everything from 6.2 to 7 miles, in and out. We went about 5.5 miles.

Difficulty: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation change: 30 feet

We parked our car at Steamboat Landing, but there is also parking at Captain William Clark Park and at other places along the trail, plus there are several accesses for walkers and bikers from downtown Washougal. At Steamboat Landing, you can take a detour to a floating dock and observation point. The path is paved, running alongside the Columbia River, and it has several access points to docks and beaches. At Captain William Clark Park there are some exhibits and a side trail to Cottonwood Beach, which was a camping spot for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Although there are a few industrial sites at the beginning and middle of the path, eventually you leave that all behind. Further along the path is access to Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge. All along the way, we saw lots of water birds. The hike ends at a gate where the path becomes private property.

This is a really nice easy hike, a pleasant place to be on a sunny day.

How to get there

From Vancouver

Take Washington Highway 14 east toward Camas and Washougal. In Washougal, you will see a roundabout with a sign pointing to Steamboat Landing. Take that exit off the roundabout, and follow the road down to the parking area.

Parking and Facilities

The Steamboat Landing parking area has room for about 10 cars and a couple of restrooms. It also has a floating dock for fishing and an observation point.

Less than a mile down the path at Captain William Clark Park, there is a larger parking lot and multi-user bathrooms with showers. There are also some other areas along the trail where you can park.

Dogs and horses, bikes and jogging are allowed on the trail. However, there is no trash collection, so please pack out all your trash. Be aware, too, that if you take your dog, you cannot take the dog down into the Wildlife Refuge. The dog can go down onto the beaches, though, and anywhere along the dike trail.

A pleasant sunny walk

On the way in you pass a marshy area with channels. These channels had lots of ducks in them, although that is not obvious from the photo. (There are ducks in the photo, I promise.) There are nice views of Mt. Hood in this park. I thought I’d taken a picture of it here, but it is just off to the left.

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

We had had lots of rain before the hike, but the dirt trail is well drained and very well kept.

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.

We saw this Great Blue Heron as we were crossing the bridge and were able to take the best picture of it from behind it on the path. He didn’t seem too worried about people.

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

From Vancouver

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.