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Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge provides a plethora of different public use activities. From hiking to nature photography, there is plenty to do, and just off Interstate-5 too!

Wildlife observation opportunities abound for a variety of species. From the croaking Pacific chorus frog, to the cackling acorn woodpecker, there is always something new to discover.

All of Ankeny's trails, boardwalks, and kiosks provide family-friendly wildlife viewing areas. The refuge has few hills, so all trails have very little elevation-gain, offering easy walks without losing any of the nature-experience opportunities.

Refuge Access

The refuge is open from dawn to dusk. The refuge is bordered by Ankeny Hill Road, Buena Vista Road, and Wintel Road to the north, west and south respectively, and visitors can access refuge trails and/or viewing areas from each. Parking is allowed in designated parking areas only. No overnight parking is allowed on the refuge.  

Hiking 

Hiking is allowed in all areas open to the public. Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged. Please stay out of closed areas to minimize disturbance to plants and animals. Bicycling and running are allowed only on designated public access routes. These activities are not allowed on trails or roads closed to public vehicles. 

General Regulations

Other prohibitions on the refuge are the collection of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts. Leashed dogs are permitted in designated parking areas only. All dogs are prohibited on refuge trails and roads.  

Where We are Located

Ankeny NWR can be found off of Interstate 5, 12 miles south of Salem, Oregon or 10 miles north of Albany, Oregon; take the Ankeny Hill Exit (243). 

For questions about recreation, please contact the refuge complex office at (541) 757-7236 during normal office hour

Activities

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge provides a plethora of different public use activities. From hiking to nature photography, there is plenty to do, and just off Interstate-5 too!

Wildlife Viewing

If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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! At Ankeny wildlife viewing opportunities range from the stately great blue heron, to chittering western gray squirrels and kreck-ek-ing pacific chorus frogs.

Interpretation

For interpretive experiences at Ankeny NWR, check out Ankeny Hill Overlook, the Eagle Marsh Kiosk, Rail Trail Boardwalk, or the Pintail & Egret Marsh Boardwalk. 

Ankeny Nature Center (Coming Soon!)

Did you know Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge is partnering with the Salem Audubon Society to build a Nature Center on Ankeny Hill? The building is currently in the design process, but stay tuned for more details and information on future environmental education opportunities on the refuge!

Photography

Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge considers wildlife photography to be a high-priority activity, and we even provide a photography blind on Frog Pond at the Refuge. 

To learn more about our photography blind and the reservation process, follow the link below.

Trails

Trails & Boardwalks

The Dike Trails

Length: Variable
Open: April 1st-September 30th

Seasonally accessible dikes weave around most ponds and marshes on the refuge. Take a stroll down one of these paths for a closer look at activity on the water. See the refuge map for trail locations.

Rail Trail Boardwalk to Observation Blind

Length: .75 mile
Open: Year Round

The start of Rail Trail is at a parking lot on the south side of Wintel Road. Interpretive signs at the trailhead provide information about the refuge. From the Rail Trail parking lot, follow the gravel trail to the boardwalk. The boardwalk will take you through seasonally flooded ash woodlands. Stop at benches and interpretive panels along the way to look for downy woodpeckers pecking away at the branches or listen for black-capped chickadees in the shrubs. At the viewing blind, make sure to stop for a look at Wood Duck Pond where hooded mergansers, egrets, and Canada geese are often seen. From here, you can return the way you came, or continue a short way down the boardwalk as it wraps around Wood Duck Pond to a dike where the loop portions of the trail begin.

Rail Trail, Woodland Loop & Prairie Extension

Length: .5 to 1 mile
Open: April 1st-September 30th

From the end of the boardwalk, follow the trail across the dike and into an oak woodland habitat. An excellent summertime trail, the Woodland Loop is shaded under the forest canopy and provides opportunities to listen for songbirds in the branches above. After hiking about a quarter mile you come out of the forest onto a dike. Here you can complete the Loop by following the dike back to the boardwalk junction, or turn left for the Prairie Extension. This mown trail wraps around an open prairie for a half mile and back to the Rail Trail parking lot. This is a great spot to look for raptors such as northern harrier hunting over the fields. 

Rail Trail, Dunlin Pond & South Pond Loops, Killdeer Marsh Extension

Length: Variable
Open: April 1st-September 30th

From the end of the Rail Trail Boardwalk, follow the dike around Dunlin Pond. Look for great blue herons and great egret hunting in the waters, or shorebirds feeding along the pond-edges on the mudflats. The three-quarter-mile Dunlin Pond Loop will connect you to the start of the boardwalk on Rail Trail. The half mile South Pond Loop leaves Dunlin Pond Trail to extend viewing opportunities of the ponds and marshlands around the Rail Trail riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

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area. Marsh wrens and dragonflies may be seen zipping through the cattails on the pond banks. To give yourself an extra 0.45 mile of wetland trails, follow the Killdeer Marsh Extension and listen for red-winged blackbirds singing near the water. These trails are best in the early morning or evening due to lack of shade.

Pintail & Egret Marsh Boardwalk

Length: .25 mile
Open: Year Round

Pintail & Egret Marsh Boardwalk begins at a parking area on the north side of Wintel Road. An interpretive sign at the trailhead describes the Marshes. The boardwalk follows Bashaw Creek where red-legged frogs are often seen. Make sure to pause along the way to look for animal tracks in the muddy banks, listen for songbirds, and read interpretive signs to learn more about the different residents of this habitat. The boardwalk ends at an observation blind overlook Pintail and Egret Marshes. If you are quiet, you might be rewarded with spotting an osprey soaring overhead. Flocks of waterfowl frequent these marshes, so keep a lookout for various duck species as well as tundra swans and Canada geese.

Other Facilities in the Complex

Habitat Types

Seasonal Wetland

The majority of Ankeny NWR's wetland habitat is seasonal. These are wetlands flooded by precipitation in the cool seasons and are then dried up by the summer heat. Most of the Refuge seasonal wetlands, however, are managed using a combination of dikes, spillways and water control structures. Using the water control structures, Refuge managers can release water collected and retained during the winter. This seasonality reflects the bird usage of the wetlands which numbers in the thousands during the winter, and drops down to mere hundreds in the spring and summer.  

Permanent Wetland

42 of Ankeny's 530 wetland acres are permanent wetlands, with an additional 186 serving as permanent or seasonal depending on management decisions. These permanent wetland areas provide space for nesting waterfowl to raise their young, homes for red-legged frog and Oregon chub, and hunting grounds for osprey during the summer.

Wet Prairie

Wet prairies are characterized by shallow ponding of water on the prairie floor up to 6" deep throughout the winter and early spring. They are known for their mounded topography which forms low points that flood seasonally and create a unique environment to support a broad diversity of plant species. Once the most widespread habitat type on the Willamette Valley floor, intact historic wet prairie land today numbers less than 1% of its original area. Due to the rarity of this habitat type, many plant species native to the wet prairie are declining and listed as endangered or threatened  under the Endangered Species Act.

Riparian

Riparian areas are vital habitat corridors for a number of different species of wildlife. Riparian hardwood forests once dominated the floodplains of the Willamette River; at the arrival of Euroamerican settlers these forests made up about 10% of vegetative cover in the Valley. Since the 1850's, these bottomland riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

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forests have declined by over 70%. To explore the riparian woodlands of Ankeny NWR, take a walk down the Rail Trail Boardwalk.

Agricultural Fields

Representing the largest swath of land on the refuge, the agricultural crops grown on the refuge land provide essential fodder for wintering Canada geese. A vast majority of these agricultural fields are managed cooperatively with local farmers, thus benefiting both the refuge management goals as well as the farmers.

Rules and Policies

Pets

  • For pet and wildlife safety, dogs and other domestic animals are not permitted outside of vehicles anywhere on the refuge.

Motor Vehicles and Bicycles

  • Motor vehicles and bicycles are permitted only on the roads open to public vehicle access.
  • Bicycling is prohibited on all trails.
  • Please park only in designated areas. 

Prohibited Activities

  • Jogging, camping, fires, horseback riding, ATV or ORV use, and cross-country skiing are not allowed on the Refuge.
  • Collecting historical objects or artifacts, rocks, stones or mineral specimens is not permitted.
  • Collecting animals, plants or their parts, such as antlers, berries or mushrooms, is prohibited.

Firearms

  • Firearms and other weapons are prohibited except as authorized by state law. Firearms are not allowed inside Federal Buildings. Consult the refuge office for further information.

Locations

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge
2301 Wintel Road Jefferson, OR 97352-9758
Driving Directions

Refuge Access

 

The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset. The refuge is bordered by Ankeny Hill Road, Buena Vista Road, and Wintel Road to the north, west and south respectively, and visitors can access refuge trails and/or viewing areas from each. Parking is allowed in designated parking areas only. No overnight parking is allowed on the refuge.