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Vancouver, WA: Redtail Lake Loop

wa

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 2.9 miles


This 3-mile lollipop loop in the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge makes a pleasant family-friendly outing with ample bird and wildlife watching near the Columbia River.
  • Turtle Pond
  • Steigerwald Lake NWR
  • Steigerwald Lake
  • Gibbons Creek Art Trail
  • Columbia River Gorge
  • Redtail Lake

Just inside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home or a way station to over 40 types of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 200 types of birds. Within the sanctuary, the recently-opened Gibbons Creek Art Trail highlights habitats and viewpoints with eco-inspired artwork. An interpretive signboard at the trailhead has area maps and animal watching guides available. 

Begin on the Gibbons Creek Art Trail, heading south towards the Columbia River, through grasslands surrounding the western portion of Steigerwald Lake. Oregon's Larch Mountain fills the view to the east. At a grove of shady cottonwoods, the trail bends eastward along Gibbons Creek to a junction with an arched gate. During the spring and summer seasons (open May 1 - Sept. 30) the gate is open allowing visitors to explore a spur though a waterfowl sanctuary. For the complete loop in season, continue through the gate, watching and listening for a variety of song and water birds.

At the eastern end of the spur trail, pass through another gate to a junction with the waterfront trail and the opposite end of the Gibbons Creek Art Trail. From this location, view the Columbia River and Mt. Hood peeking above the Gorge ridges. A salmon ladder can be seen where Gibbons Creek empties into the Columbia. Turn right (west) and proceed along the river to a fork and veer right (northwest), now with Redtail Lake in view. The trail curves around Redtail Lake to a viewpoint, followed by a long boardwalk above the marshy western edge. Look for turtles sunning themselves on logs and rocks. Past the boardwalk, reenter shady tree cover along Gibbons Creek to a bridge crossing back to the seasonal gate junction. Turn left (west) and follow familiar trail to return to your starting point.

If visiting during the fall and winter seasons when the gates are closed, start the Gibbons Creek Art Trail from the parking area, but turn right at the gated junction over the creek and around Redtail Lake to the end of the Art Trail at the opposite gate for a 4-mile out-and-back.

-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

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