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East of Washougal, WA, and a half hour drive from downtown Portland, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a haven for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Entering the refuge, the road leads to a gravel parking lot. There is loose gravel throughout the lot, including the accessible parking space. There is helpful information at the kiosk just before the trailhead. There is also an accessible restroom nearby. 

From the trailhead, a wide compacted gravel path takes you south along the west side of a marshy area that is Steigerwald Lake. This is the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail. The 2 3/4 mile trail is peppered with numerous artifacts that are inspiring and in many cases, functional.

About a mile down the trail you will pass through a grove of cottonwood trees before reaching a junction. This is the gateway to the Refuge seasonal trail which is open from May through September. The trail is closed from October through April to allow wintering birds to be left undisturbed. 

Staying to the right of the junction takes you across the first boardwalk bridge with a view of Gibbons Creek. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, continue walking the trail around Redtail Lake. A second, longer bridge is a popular destination to view wildlife.

The trail continues south through open meadows of tall grasses and cattails until you reach the Columbia River Dike Trail. This trail parallels the Columbia River. Go left to complete the Refuge Trail loop. Here you will have spectacular views of the Oregon side of the Gorge, including Crown Point and on a clear day, Mount Hood.

Across the trail from the viewing area is the gate on the opposite end of the Steigerwald seasonal trail. You will pass through more open terrain, a small stand of cottonwoods and pass by a few additional art sculptures.

The seasonal trail ends at the artistic gate first passed, ending the trail loop. From here double back to the parking lot.

Refuge hours are posted at the entrance and will vary throughout the year as the times for dawn and dusk change.

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

US Fish and Wildlife Service


Name: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Parks agency: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Contact: Josie Finley (360) 887-4106

Location: WA-14 E past Washougal, WA and mile marker 18

Hours: Dawn to dusk daily, seasonal trail closed October 1May 1

Public transit: Gorge West End Transit (WET) busservice is seasonal and limitedcheck their website for schedule and dates

Length: 2 3/4 miles

How difficult do we consider it: Easy

Last visited: November 17, 2016—information not updated in 2021

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge will be closed until spring 2022, for the implementation of the Steigerwald Reconnection Project. Click the link to visit the project website and to learn about the exciting improvements that are already underway.


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