The Willapa Interpretive Art Trail was created to commemorate the restoration of a small stream near Refuge Headquarters. From the curving one-quarter mile long ADA accessible boardwalk, visitors can occasionally observe the spawning salmon. Artwork located along the boardwalk helps to tell the stories of the stream and the many species who live there. Students from the University of Washington Public Arts Program designed, constructed, and installed the artwork for the trail under the direction of professors John Young, Ian Robertson, and Jim Nicholls.
Visitors may find themselves perched on a mud-loving marine worm while picnicking on the back of a dragonfly. The table was designed by UW art student Gary Carpenter. The species in Carpenter's table are mud-dependent and less glamorous, a deliberate choice because the refuge staff wanted the artists' works to represent smaller, underappreciated species. Near the dragonfly table, the Art Trail winds down a boardwalk that is ADA accessible. Everyone on the path has to step over "A Story in Shards," made of hammered bits of bronze inserted in the boardwalk surface by artist Allison Blevins. Farther up the trail are bronze sculptures of life stages of the tailed frog and western brook lampreys on a stone surface made by Jacqye Jones. The boardwalk is graced with 25 life-size bronze sculptures of the 14 species of amphibians found in the refuge. As people continue down the trail, they'll pass the contribution of Becca Weiss, a dozen painted aluminum birds that float on big, looping white stands. Even more noticeable are a run of 50 metal chum nailed high in trees.
Cutthroat Climb Trail
The Interpretive Art Trail leads to the Cutthroat Climb loop, which continues another 0.75 mile (1.2 km).
Artist Becca Weiss's birds are your companion as the trail rises -- and then falls -- steeply through the deep-woods of old-growth hemlocks and ferns. The trail has some wooden steps. Be sure to watch you footing as the trail may be slippery and tree roots may cause tripping hazards.
The Willapa Interpretive Art Trail is open seven days a week from dawn till dusk.
Located at the tip of the Long Beach Peninsula, trails in the Leadbetter Unit allow visitors to walk through coastal woodlands, salt marshes, and beaches. Many miles of pedestrian-only trails link the Leadbetter Unit with adjacent Leadbetter Point State Park. These trails can be flooded with deep pools of water during the rainy season (October through May), so plan accordingly.
Long Island is only accessibe by boat. A network of old logging roads converted to trails provide over 10 miles (16.1 km) of hiking opportunities. One of the most popular destinations is the Trail of the Ancient Cedars, a 0.75 mile (1.2 km) loop trail near the center of the island. To get to this location, land your boat at the old ferry landing on the southern tip of Long Island and follow the center road north, the trail to the Grove of the Ancient Cedars is approximately 2.5 miles (4km) from the landing. A detailed hiking map of Long Island can be found here (270 KB PDF).
The Cutthroat Climb trail spurs off the Willapa Interpretive Art Trail and climbs into the forest. The trail is a moderate 0.75 mile (1.2 km) long trail with steps cut into the hillside for easier movement up and down the ridge. Additional art pieces weave through the trail, providing an enlightening perspective of the natural world that is fun for all ages.
Long Island is the Pacific Coast's largest estuarine
island. The island is 5,640 acres and includes a rare 274-acre remnant
of old growth lowland coastal forest. Many of the red cedar trees
in this grove are over 900 years old. The rain-drenched forests
on the island grow rapidly; dense with salal, huckleberry,
and Sitka spruce. Hundreds of species of mushrooms and other fungus
are also found. NOTE: The harvesting of mushrooms is prohibited.
The nutrient-rich marine environment surrounding Long
Island supports oysters, clams, crabs, salmon, steelhead, and numerous
other marine organisms.
State owned tidelands are open to public clamming on the western side of Long Island. You must possess a permit to harvest during season established by Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife. Be mindful of boundaries as many privately owned tidelands surround Long Island and are closed to the public.
National Wildlife Refuge permits camping in designated spaces on
Long Island. To minimize disturbances to wildlife and their habitats,
no camping is permitted on the mainland portion of Willapa National
Wildlife Refuge. (For those interested in camping on the mainland,
sites are available at the many area state and county parks and
Although the refuge surrounds much of southern Willapa Bay, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is not considered a prime fishing location. Fishing is permitted from the shores of Willapa Bay. Most visitors interested in fishing on the refuge are in search of sturgeon. Fishing is not permitted on the refuge streams, beaver ponds or interior sloughs. For additional information, please see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge constructed a photography blind on a seasonal freshwater wetland in 2003. The best time of year to use the blind is during the winter and early spring when the wetland is full of water and feeding waterfowl. The blind is available by reservation only. To make a reservation, please contact Refuge Headquarters at 360-484-3482.
National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to view and photograph
a variety of wildlife. During the fall and spring migrations, the
refuge is home to thousands of migrating shorebirds including dunlins,
sanderlings, short-billed dowitchers, and black-bellied plovers.
Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is part of The Great Washington State Birding Trail.
More information on birding in Washington State, including maps, resources and recent sightings.
There are many places on the refuge where you can commonly view and photograph large herds of Roosevelt elk. Black-tailed deer, black bear, and bobcat are more elusive. Watch for river otters or harbor seals. The refuge is home to 14 species of amphibians. Rough skinned newts, Pacific tree frogs, and red-legged frogs are commonly seen on the trails on cool, moist days (watch where you step!). Other species such as Dunn's, Van Dyke's, and Northwestern Salamanders are more challenging to spot.
REMINDER: No dogs are permitted at any unit of the refuge, including trails and parking lots. For the protection of wildlife and the enjoyment of other visitors, please leave your pets at home.