Finley Wildlife Refuge: Winter Hike

It has been hard to get motivated to go exploring so far this week. I am not sure if is because of the holidays, the sugary snacks, or the rain, but we it seems like we just need a push to get out there. We have already hit our usual local hikes, so we widened our driving radius a bit and headed a bit out of town. William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge is managed by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is popular for spotting Elk, bird watching, and hiking.

Woodpecker Loop Trail

The woodpecker loop is our usual go-to trail. You walk through forests, near ponds and streams, through grasslands, and even catch distant views of fields and mountains. Today did not disappoint!

The trail had even been updated with information stands. You pull open a little door and a laminated card with information about the trees, plants and wildlife is inside.

The woodpecker loop trail was not as muddy as the picture of the woods. As far as mud goes during December in the Willamette Valley, this trail is one of the better options. The trail is gravel and mostly higher than surrounding land. Don’t let the rain deter you!

The woodpecker loop connects to the Mill Hill Trail. We typically do the two loops together. The Mill Hill Trail is mostly wooded and runs along a large wetland. We have come close to seeing a herd of Elk on this trail in the past but no such luck today. Hundreds of geese were our main wildlife sighting. Halfway through the Mill Hill Trail today, the sun came out and we could all see our shadows for the first time this week. We past three or four other groups of hikers in the hour and a half that we were there. Each hiker was wearing a mask and looking just as happy as we were to be walking in the sunshine.

If you happen to find yourself looking for a day hike in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Finley Wildlife Refuge is one option. Stop by the general store for a souvenir, snack, and a chat if you have time as well! (in non-Covid times, of course!)


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