Hiking Trails

Frog Lake Trail

Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to see the power of the ice age floods that ripped the landscape of eastern Washington. The view above is from the Frog Lake Trail and shows how the swirling waters and scouring rocks created pockets everywhere, pockets that would later be filled with water from the Columbia Basin Project.

The trails on Columbia National Wildlife Refuge are considered primitive and may be narrow, overgrown, uneven, steep, and/or unstable. All trails are in areas that are closed between October 1 and March 1 to provide winter sanctuary for waterfowl. Despite that, the Frog Lake Trail remains open year-round, but you must remain on the trail.


Frog Lake Interpretive Trail

Difficulty: Moderate 

The trail is 3.0-miles-long with an elevation gain of 200 feet. Although starting out near Crab Creek, this trail promptly leads into the drier shrub-steppe habitat. Don't look for Frog Lake—it no longer exists! After meandering past striking columnar basalt formations, the trail ascends, circling the top of a mesa and provides a beautiful view of the surrounding refuge landscape.


Marsh Loop

Difficulty: Easy 

The Marsh Loop is about 1.8-miles-long and, except for a small incline down from the parking lot, has no elevation change. This trail follows Crab Creek and circles two marshes, remaining in the lowlands near wetland habitat.


Crab Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate 

This trail forms a 1.0-mile-long loop that primarily follows Crab Creek, immersing one in its riparian habitat. With scattered willows and large patches of wild rose and golden currant, this trail is a favorite among birders. For an extended hike, you may follow an additional 3/4-mile section of trail connecting the Crab Creek Trail to the Frog Lake and Marsh Loop trailheads. Caution: The primitive stairs that lead you out of the marsh to the top of the bluff are not always stable.


Black Lake Trail

Difficulty: Easy 

This trail is about 3/4-miles in length one-way, but you must backtrack to return to your vehicle. The trail crosses a picturesque bridge over Crab Creek and then takes you on a dike to Black Lake, which is located off the refuge. You will find ant highways, as well as beaver paths crossing the dike.