William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge provides a wide array of recreational opportunities. With over 12 miles of hiking trails, observation blinds and platforms the refuge is a great place for wildlife observation. Hike to the oak platform along the nationally recognized Woodpecker Loop Trail to enjoy wonderful views across the Willamette Valley. Or visit the McFadden Marsh observation blind to view numerous migratory waterfowl in the winter.
Auto Tour Route
A great way to visit the refuge and see various types of wildlife during the winter months is by driving along the Auto Tour Route . This road winds through the middle of the Refuge taking you past wetlands, creeks and ponds that migratory birds call home in the winter. Follow the road to the south end of the refuge to see hundreds of birds on McFadden Marsh, geese feeding on the fields and Pigeon Butte. See map for more information.
Hunting (updated August 19, 2012)
Hunters and other visitors to William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge will see significant changes to the annual black-tailed deer hunt beginning this season. Highlights include an expanded hunt season, expanded hunt area, permitting use of muzzleloaders during specified dates, and allowing use of the state 615 Willamette Unit antlerless tag. These changes to the current hunt were put into place after a public comment period and are designed to provide increased recreational opportunities.
The Refuge archery season begins on August 25th and ends September 23rd. The hunt will take place in the same designated Refuge area as in previous years, referred to as Zone 1. Valid state 615 tags may be used from September 1st through September 23rd using archery only. Hunting with a valid state 615 tag continues in Zone 1 from September 24th through September 28th, using archery, shotguns using buckshot or slugs, and muzzleloaders. The general gun season for Zone 1 begins on September 29th and runs through October 31st.
The extended hunt period takes place on November 1st and 2nd in the newly designated hunt area, referred to as Zone 2, which includes Bald Top, Woodpecker Loop, Intertie Trail, and Mill Hill Trail. Hunters must possess valid state 615 tags or general season deer tags. Hunt methods are restricted to archery, shotguns using buckshot or slugs, and muzzleloaders. Zone 2 will be closed to all other public access during the two-day hunt.
Self-service hunt kiosks will be located off Finley Refuge Road across from the Turtle Flats Restroom, and off Bruce Road near the east end of McFadden Marsh bridge. Maps and regulations will be clearly posted at the hunt kiosks, as well as in the link below.
Only black-tailed deer may be hunted. All other hunting is prohibited. Hunting is permitted seven days a week from ½ hour before legal sunrise to ½ hour after legal sunset. Only shotguns using buckshot or slugs and muzzleloaders for the restricted firearms deer hunt may be used during the designated dates. Either sex deer may be harvested with appropriate state-issued tag. Overnight camping and after hours parking is prohibited on the Refuge. All hunters must complete a Big Game Harvest Report (FWS form 3-2359), available at the self-service hunt kiosks, after each hunt day. Hunters may use portable or climbing deer stands but must remove them from the Refuge daily. Hunters must have a current State hunting license and valid state-issued deer tag. Hunters under 18 must have their hunter safety card on their person.
Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on national wildlife refuges must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with Refuge regulations.
Hunting is not currently permitted on the Snag Boat Bend Unit, Ankeny or Baskett Slough Refuges.For more information regarding the scheduled hunt or the Refuges, please contact the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters at (541) 757-7236. Office hours are Monday thru Friday 8:00am - 4:30pm.
Fishing is allowed in designated areas on Muddy Creek from the beginning of the State trout season in April through October 31. All State of Oregon regulations apply. The use of boats is not permitted.
Wildlife Viewing and Photography
The wildlife that use William L. Finley NWR as a home or just pass through are diverse and wonderful to see. A large herd of Roosevelt elk are commonly seen browsing on refuge fields and spring is a great time to view migratory songbirds in the prairie habitats. Here are a few tips for viewing wildlife:
Visitors come to the Willamette Valley NWR Complex for many reasons, but most center on the abundance of wildlife that can be seen during the different seasons. The vision of geese, ducks, and water birds by the thousands dotting the open fields and marshes are enough to entice even the most seasoned of naturalists. Hawks soar overhead, scanning the landscape for a quick meal. Elk and bobcat roam the woodland edge. Iridescent butterfly wings glimmer like jewels in the sun. But most wildlife are naturally apprehensive around people and disappear quickly if approached. Photography blinds can provide visitors with an opportunity to view wildlife up close without disturbing the animal's natural behavior. Two photography blinds are now available to photographers hoping to click that award-winning picture or just preserve a memory to last a life time.
William L. Finley NWR is fortunate to have numerous registered historical buildings on the refuge that act as a glimpse of what life was like many years ago. The historic Fiechter House built in 1855, Cabell Lodge, Fiechter Barn, Cheadle Barn and the Big Barn. All of these historic buildings are closed to the public except for Cabell Lodge which is the refuge headquarters. During special events one or more of these buildings are occasionally open for guided tours with the assistance of Benton County Historic Society.
Interpretation \ Environmental Education
Along the Auto Tour Route and along Woodpecker Loop Trail there are numerous interpretive and education signs that describe habitats, historical land uses, migratory birds, elk and much more. Take the time to read these signs and learn about this unique area.