Trail Descriptions

Beaver-Cattail Ponds Trail

William L. Finley NWR and its Snag Boat Bend Unit provide miles of trails to suit all interest levels. Be aware of seasonal closures, however, as some of our interior trails are closed for the winter to provide sanctuary for wintering waterfowl. Always make sure to check our website or call the office before arriving to hike, as trails can also be closed due to maintenance, habitat restoration projects, flooding, or hunting seasons. And, as always, have fun and enjoy observing the wildlife! For our trail map, follow this link

William L. Finley Unit Trails

Woodpecker Loop Trail               

1.1 Miles round trip                    Open Year-Round 

Trailhead is located just off Finley Refuge Road.  A porta-potty is located near the trailhead.  An interpretive brochure is available at the trailhead kiosk.  The trail begins in an oak woodland habitat.  Take the right hand fork and climb slightly to an overlook with exceptional views of the valley and the Cascade Range. Native oak savannah habitat is visible on Bald Top, just to the west. Follow the trail through open fields to a seasonal pond where rough-skinned newts and other amphibians are commonly seen.  The trail continues into a Douglas fir- dominated forest.  As the trail drops down, mature Maple trees and evidence of past logging practices are visible. Interpretive signs throughout the trail provide information about different animal and plant species.   This is an excellent trail for bird watching.

Mill Hill Loop Trail            

2.5 miles round trip                         Open Year-Round 

Trailhead may be accessed from the Display Pond or Headquarters parking areas.     Follow the trail signs as you hike from either access point.  This up-and-down trail takes you through many different forest types: oak, woodland, mature maple, and Douglas fir. Look for wood ducks or beavers on Gray Creek, or rest on one of the benches to watch for elk, deer and other wildlife around the forest margins.

Intertie Trail                                          

.5 miles one way                          Open Year-Round 

Trail can be accessed near the midway point on Woodpecker Loop or near the beginning of Mill Hill Trail.  This trail ties together these two popular loops for hikers who want to explore more of the refuge.  The trail takes you through the understory of a mixed deciduous and fir forest.

Homer Campbell Memorial Trail     

.4 miles one way                        Open Year-Round 

Trailhead is at the parking area east of the historical Fiechter House. This accessible boardwalk winds through the Muddy Creek riparian area that is seasonally flooded with winter rains.  Oregon ash and big-leaf maple are the common tree species, providing canopy for many songbirds.  Thrushes, bushtits and juncos are commonly heard. The trail ends at an observation blind overlooking Cabell Marsh.  A seasonal extension (Open Apr 1 to Oct 31) offers access to Cabell Marsh and the Refuge interior

Cabell Marsh Trail                       

1.4 miles one way from observation deck to west end of Cabell Marsh at wooden memorial bench                                 Open April 1 to October 31* 

Trailhead is at the Cabell Lodge parking lot.  A path to an observation deck and scope is open year-round. Here you can see an abundance of wildlife on the marsh. During the open season, head east from this deck onto the service road and turn right. At the junction there is a sign indicating directions to Beaver & Cattail Ponds and Mill Hill. This is the turn-around point; or you may continue to those trails. Cabell Marsh is hunting territory for bald eagles, osprey and other raptors. Look for coyotes, beaver, and black-tailed deer on the fringes.

* A portion of Cabell Marsh Trail is open year-round

McFadden’s Marsh Trail                        

.14 miles one way                    Open Year-Round 

Trailhead is located on the north side of Bruce Road near the eastern boundary.  A porta-potty is located near the trailhead.  This accessible trail and boardwalk meanders beside McFadden Marsh, ending in an observation blind overlooking the Marsh.  During the winter season, visitors may see thousands of waterfowl using the Marsh.   Nesting waterfowl are present during the summer.  Raptors soar overhead searching for an easy meal.  Shorebirds frequent the shallow water’s edge.  Songbirds use shrubs along the trail for food, shelter and nesting.

Cheadle Marsh Trail       

 1 mile one way          Open April 1 to October 31 

Trailhead is located at turnout off Bruce Road. Walk past the gate here, onto the dike.  This flat trail (out and back) follows the banks of Cheadle Marsh and the riparian forest of Muddy Creek, ending near  Cheadle Barn.  Here you can observe native wetland plants, influenced by changing water levels. Great blue herons may be seen wading in and around these areas.  NOTE: Cheadle Barn is NOT open to the public.

 Pigeon Butte Trail                                     

 1.3 miles one way     Open April 1 to October 31 

 Trailhead is at the parking area off the south side of Bruce Road. Follow the interior refuge road north towards Cheadle Barn on the hill.  Go left where the road splits at Cheadle Barn Pond and hike toward Pigeon Butte.  Turn left at the trail marker and follow the road to the top of the hill.   Pigeon Butte is the highest point on the Refuge and allows for great views of the Willamette Valley.  Band-tailed pigeons and migratory songbirds often stop at the mineral springs near the quarry.

 Beaver & Cattail Ponds Trail      

 2 miles round trip (unimproved trail)     Open April 1 to October 31   

 Trailhead is located at a turnout off Bruce Road. Walk up the interior service road to an old rock quarry site. Turn left; at fork stay left to cross a rocky ditch. Follow trail staying to the right through the Maple Knoll Research Natural Area to Beaver Pond. At the gravel interior service road, turn right to follow signs to Cattail Pond. Trail will loop around the eastern bank and hug the field edge. Take a right as the trail weaves back into a wooded area and returns to the Quarry site. Be sure to look for wood ducks, pied-billed grebes, and mergansers at the ponds.


Snag Boat Bend Unit Trails

Note: Snag Boat Bend Unit Trails may be closed during the winter due to high water. Check for flood notifications on our site before hiking.

Lake Creek Trail

. 6 mile one way                                         Open Year Round 

Trailhead is located at the Snag Boat Bend Parking Lot off of Peoria Road. From the parking lot follow the boardwalk path through a marshy riparian zone. At the end of the boardwalk, continue along the trail a quarter mile until you come upon a picnic area where you can see western pond turtles basking on fallen logs in the backwaters of the Willamette River. As you walk along the trail you'll notice hundreds of young trees in the area. Cottonwoods, big-leaf maple, and Oregon ash are just a few of the tree species that have been planted to restore historical riparian habitat. After an additional quarter mile, you will come to the junction to the observation blind. At the observation blind look out one of the viewing windows onto the backwater slough of Lake Creek. Wood ducks, great blue heron and belted kingfisher are commonly seen in this area. 

Turtle Loop Trail

.6 mile one way                                            Open Year Round  

Turtle Loop Trail begins at the Lake Creek Observation Blind (hike from parking lot to observation blind is NOT included in trail length). Continuing on from the observation blind, you will skirt open fields--providing viewing opportunities for raptors and prairie songbirds. When you reach a gravel road, you will follow it has it veers to the right onto a levee. In the summer, make sure to take a look around for great blue herons, which have been known to build tree-top rookeries in the tall cottonwood trees for nesting. Even if you don't spot a heron standing sentinel in the tree-tops, it has likely spotted you, and you can often hear a great squawk as it sounds it's alarm call to the rookery. Once across the levee, the trail will lead down the bank to the right for a leisurely looping track around a cottonwood-lined prairie. Along the loop listen for common yellowthroat, song sparrows, and keep an eye out for tree swallows swooping overhead for insects. This trail will loop back to the levee and gravel refuge road. 

Blue Heron Trail

1 mile                                               Open Year Round  


The Blue Heron Trail is a there-and-back trail which begins at the start of the Levee Road, 1 mile from the parking lot. Begin your hike by taking the Lake Creek Trail to reach this point. Instead of taking the Levee Road, follow the gravel refuge road to the left to continue skirting the farm fields. Look for red tailed hawks perched on trees and coyotes stalking the fields for mice. The refuge road will lead you to a mown path that will run alongside a stand of cottonwoods. Look and listen for flycatchers and hummingbirds among the trees and pairs of common yellowthroat chirping in the grass. The trail will end alongside a small side channel of the Willamette River. Stop here to listen for lazuli buntings in the shrubs before returning back the way you came. And don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything you missed the first time on your way back!