Saturday, May 21, 2011

Snag Boat Bend & Finley Wildlife Refuge

Snag Boat Bend Trailhead
Osprey & nest above us
On Saturday Emily and I wanted to get out of town in the good weather and explore some places nearby we hadn’t been to before with our new camera. I looked in our Corvallis Trails book and found the Finley Wildlife Refuge area and Snag Boat Bend area along the Willamette River.
We first drove down Peoria Road to the Snag Boat Bend wildlife refuge. We had our bikes with us and didn’t see anyone around nor any signs saying we couldn’t bike (although I had a clue we shouldn’t be). We are both stewards of the land and new that the ground was dry and we wouldn’t do much by biking over the grassy trails of the area so we took our bikes. We didn’t see much over the wooden boardwalk but after rounding a bend we found a bird blind and took some shots of a couple Herons flying over the water. Further up the trail near some very cool bee farm boxes in a field we crossed a levee to find an osprey nest just 20 feet above our heads on a telephone pole with an osprey circling and crying because we were too close. We stopped here as a I practiced the shutter speed variations of our new camera getting some great shots of the bird taking off and landing from the nest. As we started to ride we quickly found out that the Himalayan Blackberry bushes in the area had popped Emily ‘s back tire. Mine seemed to be fine – later I found out my tire was also filled with thorns but because I have tubeless rims the thorns had popped my inner tubes but kept the air inside the outer rim allowing me to ride). We walked out to the turtle loop trail area but ended up turning around because the river was so high it had flooded our return trail so we had to backtrack past the angry osprey again.
Woodpecker Trail Interpretive Area
Rabbit on the trail
From there we drove back through town and then south down Highway 99 to the Finley Wildlife Refuge to hike some trails there. I wanted to hike as many of the various trails as possible so I connected 6 different ones into a “mega-loop” of over 8 miles that would take us throughout the entire refuge and hopefully spot us some wildlife to take photos of. We started off on the Woodpecker Loop Trail which took us up to some open fields with good views of the valley. We came across some interpretive signs by a large oak tree (the whole valley used to be an oak savannah btw) and Emily
Intertie Trail Bridge
Heading towards Beaver and Cattail Ponds
rushed back down the trail for some reason. She slowly walked back up to me with a worried look on her face saying, “I think I just smelled poison oak”… sure enough she had, so we took off my clean t-shirt and poured my camelbak into it to thoroughly wash her hands and face off before continuing down the trail. We then crossed over the Intertie Trail to the Mill Hill Loop hike which was simply a loop around a hill through the woods and past a marshy Gray Creek. On the loop we saw multiple animal tracks including deep foot-deep ruts left by what I think was a herd of elk passing through. From there we trekked across an open field in the beautiful sunlight to the Beaver and Cattail Pond loop which brought us through some muddy trails that didn’t see much use past a quarry to beautiful Cattail Pond which had an Osprey overlooking us from a tall tree.

Cabell Marsh
Homer Campbell Boardwalk
 We finished the hike by circling around Cabell Marsh where we saw a flock of Egrets, many herons, possibly a huge golden eagle, and various waterfowl. It really was a beautiful area. We finished the hike by taking the Homer Campbell Memorial Boardwalk back to the park road which took us back to the Prius. The boardwalk through the Muddy River Wetland was newly built and very impressive. It was over a quarter mile in length and I couldn’t imagine how much work it had to have been to construct the whole length of it. We were back to the car by 7:30 pm and headed back to Corvallis with many wonderful shots of wildlife to get ready for the Rapture Party!

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