Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NE ~ Gibbons Creek Wildlife Trail

Date visited: July 28, 2009
Agency: US Fish & Wildlife
Path Surface: Gravel
Elevation gain/loss: Minimal
Distance: 2.25 miles
Ratings: Setting +++ Calorie-burning ++ to ++++
Directions: Entrance is east of Washougal on Highway 14. Look for the signs.

On a very hot day, we explored this new trail through Steigerwald Lake NWR. The path begins through open fields, crosses a tree-lined bridge, then parallels a dike on the right. On a clear day, Crown Point is visible across the Columbia River.

One lonely killdeer patrolled what little moisture remained in a small pond near the parking area. Common yellowthroats and savannah sparrows hid in the grassy fields.

Closer to the river, strips of cottonwood trees begin and bird life picks up. We saw dozens of goldfinches along with a respectable number of other species, including, to my surprise, a white breasted nuthatch without an oak in sight.

At an intersection, a sturdy bridge crosses Gibbons Creek and the path passes Redtail Lake, where even in the heat of this day, we could see a tundra swan and several mallards enjoying the water. We followed the path to its connection to the Washougal Dike Trail, where you can add several more miles to your walk.

We did not try the seasonal trail along Gibbons Creek--it was just too hot! It looks like a nice loop could be made by following the seasonal trail to the Columbia River Overlook, then turning west on the Washougal Dike Trail to rejoin the Gibbons Creek Trail at the Redtail Lake Overlook.

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