Long Island Unit

Long Island hosts a variety of habitats including ancient forest, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh, and muddy tide flats/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

Long Island is the largest estuarine island on the Pacific Coast and is rich in wildlife, history and recreation opportunities.

  • Natural History

    Tree frogs range in color from green to brown, but always have a dark mask that extends from the tip of their nose to their shoulder/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Damp coastal forests, sandy beaches, salt marshes and muddy tidal flats on the 5,460 acre (2,210 hectares) island offer a variety of wildlife habitats.

    The rain-drenched coastal forest grows rapidly and densely. Ferns, Salal, huckleberry, and salmonberry bushes carpet the area beneath tall western hemlock, Sitka spruce and western red cedar trees. These forests are home to bear, elk, grouse, woodpeckers, amphibians, and numerous other animals. Learn more about refuge forests…

    On the west side of the island there are vast intertidal meadows of eelgrass. They provide important nursery grounds for young fish including Pacific herring and salmon, as well as an important food source for brant and other waterfowl. Discover more about eelgrass meadows…

    On the island’s east side, salt marshes are home to herons, shorebirds and ducks. These marshes form an important food chain for the bay. Although some animals feed on marsh vegetation, most of it dies, decays and recycles into the bay where their decomposing plants become the base for a food source that supports calms, worms, fish, mammals and birds. Uncover the amazing world of the refuge’s salt marsh habitat…

  • Cultural History

    A historic photograph of a Chinook woman with a digging stick

    The Chinook, Chehalis, and Kwalhioqua peoples lived and hunted in the area for at least 2000 years. They camped, fished, gathered oysters and clams, and hunted on Long Island. During the great period of illness, members of the current day Shoalwater Tribe survived by living isolated on the Island. Today, native peoples use the island for spiritual and cultural events.

    Logging on Long Island began in the early 1900s by independent loggers who skidded logs down sloughs and into the bay. Logs secured in “rafts” were floated to mills on the shores of Willapa Bay as well as milled on the island. A floating logging camp resided near present day Sawlog Camp.

  • The Cedar Grove

    Members of the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge explore the Cedar Grove/USFWS Photo

    The 274 acre (111 hectare) grove is one of the last remnants of the coastal forest once common in southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon. The moist climate and island setting have protected it from catastrophic fires. The grove’s location on the island and the shapes of the trees, with large buttressed trunks and sparse crowns, has made the stand resistant to wind damage. This inland stand was more difficult to cut than those closer to the water so was spared from clear-cut logging. All of which have allowed trees to reach an age of over 900 years old. Today a trail winds its way along an edge of the grove providing hikers a glimpse of the ancient forest and its wild inhabitants. Learn more about hiking to the Cedar Grove…

  • Access & Map

    Using a canoe is one way to travel to Long Island/USFWS Photo

    Access to Long Island is by boat only. No commercial tours or ferry service exist. Launch from the public ramp at Cutthroat Creek near milepost 24 on Highway 101.

    Tips for Boating to Long Island:


    • Carry a Tide Table and know when and where you can go. Campgrounds are accessible when tides are 6 feet or greater.
    • The mud is a trap. It is not solid ground.
    • Wear a life jacket.
    • Once ashore, separate from your vessel at your own risk.


    Learn more about boating to Long Island…

    Download a map of Long Island campground and trails…

  • Hiking

    There are miles of fern-lined trails on Long Island/USFWS Photo

    Beaches, meadows, sloughs and a network of old logging roads converted to trails provide a variety of hiking opportunities. Explore ancient forests, fern-lined paths and gravelly beaches. 

    Tips for Hiking on Long Island:


    • Dogs are not allowed on the island.
    • Walk only on established trails.
    • Bring water and a good purifier, as well as anything else you might need.


    Learn more about hiking on Long Island…

  • Camping

    Campsites on Long Island have a picnic table, fire ring and access to a toilet/USFWS Photo

    Camping is permitted at five locations on Long Island (access by boat only). A total of 20 primitive campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, except for in the week leading up to and during the early archery elk season when sites must be reserved. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring and access to a toilet.

    Tips for Camping at Long Island:


    • Bring water, a good purifier, and whatever else you need with you to the island.
    • Use existing fire pits, and only burn dead and downed wood.
    • Make sure fires are dowsed out cold
    • Camp Bear Smart- hang anything with a smell high and wide from a tree.
    • Follow Leave No Trace principles.



    Get more information about camping...

  • Shellfish Harvesting

    Littleneck clams can be harvested in public tidelands on the west coast of Long Island/USDA Photo

    Clams and oysters may be harvested from public tidelands located on the western side of Long Island as regulated by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. A state shellfish license is required. Be mindful of boundaries as many privately owned tidelands surround Long Island and are closed to the public.

    View maps and images of shellfish beds...

  • Hunting

    Archery hunters can pursue Roosevelt elk on Long Island during the state-regulated season/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Archery hunting of deer, elk, bear and forest grouse is permitted on Long Island. All state regulations apply. Find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge...