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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
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Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeWhat’s to Love:  As stated on their website, “The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established (along with 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley of Oregon) in 1965, in response to a need to establish vital winter habitat for wintering waterfowl with an emphasis on the dusky Canada goose whose nesting areas in Alaska were severely impacted by the violent earthquake of 1964. Ridgefield Refuge is currently approximately 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands.” This Refuge is a must do for young hikers who might enjoy bird watching.

Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeThe Refuge is split into two sections: The Carty Unit and The River S Unit. The Carty Unit features a year-long hiking trail with plenty of options for side excursions and birding. The Carty Unit also contains the amazing “Cathlapolte Plankhouse,” which is a replica of a type of Native American shelter. It looks like the roof of a larger building from outside, but once inside, your kids will marvel at the size, open fire pits, and wood beam construction.

Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeThe S Unit features a seasonal hiking trail, an “auto tour,” an “observational blind,” and hunting for waterfowl, if that’s your thing. We didn’t get to visit this Unit due to all the planned activities and demonstrations at the Carty Unit. We’ll definitely go back and explore a bit.

Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeCaveats:  There isn’t an official Visitor Center, so you’ll want to consult the website below for hours of operation and seasonal trail closures.

Make sure to bring some cash or check for the day-use-fee. Since these fees can change, I recommend checking their website.

Don’t pick the blackberries! They are sprayed with chemicals. There is a warning sign, but many people didn’t know and were picking and eating as they hiked.

Website:  Ridgefield National Wildlife RefugePlan Your Visit, Friends of Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge (includes printable maps)

Distance from Portland:  About 26 miles from downtown Portland.  Here is a Google Map.

Recommended Ages:  Unless your teens are interested in wildlife photography, this is probably not the place for them. I can’t imagine dragging a bunch of teens to this place without them complaining.

This is a great spot for kids in strollers or backpacks where you can simply walk and enjoy the surroundings. If your younger kids enjoy hiking and exploring, this is a good spot.

Parental Stress Factor:  Nothing worrisome around this place. The only way you’ll get stressed here is if you decided to bring your teenager, and they constantly complain about how boring it is.

Physical Difficulty:  Easy hiking on flat terrain. The walking paths are partially accessible with compressed asphalt. With an advance request to 360-887-4106, folks with physical disabilities can arrange assistance into the Plankhouse.

Family Fun Factor:  Not a family fun destination, but certainly worth your while for a nature outing. If you go during demonstrations, the fun factor will increase. During our trip, we observed “flint napping, traditional archery/spear throwing, friction fires, and more. It was really fun!

Pet Friendly:  No pets, even on leashes!

Weather Considerations:  Year round access, but you might want to save this for a dry day during the spring or fall.

Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeInsider Info:  The Refuge hosts guided hikes, “Bird Fest,” and a bunch of special events. Try to plan your visit when the Refuge is host to demonstrations, or at least when the Plankhouse is open to the public.

When accessing the Carty Unit, you’ll cross a bridge where you can observe Amtrak trains flying by at high speeds. Just sit and wait – it won’t take long before one sails by right under you!

Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeFamily Tips:  If you come during a sunny day, make sure to bring sunscreen, hats, water, and bug spray. We had to cut our hike short due to very hungry and aggressive mosquitoes.

A jogging stroller is fine for the trails here; however, most likely, you’ll have to lift it over the access gate. Be on the lookout for snakes! I was able to catch one for the kids to observe.

Technorati Tags: Ridgefield, Wildlife, Refuge, hiking, Plankhouse, bird watching

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8 Comments


  1. We saw a lot of wildlife when we toured the auto road a few years ago. We saw 17 large turtles sitting together on a log, deer, coyote, birds galore and a beaver. My daughter was about 6 at the time and absolutely loved the day. There are no services, so bring water and food.

  2. If we go to countryside areas than we can definitely see wildlife easily. Everyone love the Natural Life.

  3. Very nice blog to read and to get inform i like it very much and impressed from it you know that you are so beautiful about your work so keep it up.

  4. This is a large find for razzs in carriages or hikes where you can merely waddle also savor the surroundings. If your younger rags command hiking moreover exploring, this is a salubrious flaw.

  5. It miens prefer the summit of a larger edifice from external, yet previously private, your youngsters resolution sensation at the volume, frank vigor holes, furthermore timber joist building.

  6. Ridgefield is a place, which is very diverse and rich in a wide variety of flora and fauna. This is actually not as wild as they say. You can actually see many herbivores than those carnivores. I just love this place.

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