Photo © San Jaun Islands Visitors Bureau
The Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of wild species in its massive ecosystem of salt marsh, muddy tidelands, forest, freshwater wetlands and beaches. Founded in 1937 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the refuge’s goal is to protect migrating birds by providing a safe habitat of estuaries and bays. Through this secure environment, the refuge has provided a home to more than 200 bird species along with other animals, such as Roosevelt elk, salmon and a variety of amphibians. In the fall, visitors spot several varieties of birds and enjoy this special habitat as vegetation and animals adapt for the coming winter months.
The best trails to explore the abundant wildlife are the Art Trail and the Cutthroat Climb Trail. Art Trail is a flat half-mile walk where you can view bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and great blue herons in the treetops. Other birds commonly spotted include woodpeckers, nuthatches, thrushes, wrens and flycatchers. The Cutthroat Climbing trail is a more challenging two-mile hike. Here, lucky hikers might spot Roosevelt elk.
Hike along the trails, boat in the bay and camp for the night at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, visit fws.gov/refuge/Willapa.