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Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit

Southwest Washington Coast, Washington

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Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit

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  • The headquarters and visitor center for Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The vault toilet here is only unlocked on weekdays and during business hours due to vandalism.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The small dock at Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The boat launch at Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Packing a canoe for an overnight on Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Packed and ready for the paddle to Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Pinnacle Rock Campground is the southernmost campground on the island.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Campsites have picnic tables, fire pits, and access to a centrally located vault toilet.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Campsite on Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Typical campsite on Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Louse Rocks visible in the distance.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Low tide on Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The hiking routes use former logging roads.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Foxglove.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Buttercup.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The junction with the Cedar Grove Trail.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The Cedar Grove Trail begins in second-growth timber.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • The Cedar Grove Trail is named for Senator Don Bonker, who advocated for the inclusion of Long Island into Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge. - Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Don Bonker Cedar Grove Trail.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Enormous old cedars along the Cedar Grove Trail.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Sections of this trail are overgrown.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Footholds carved into the trunk of a gigantic old-growth cedar.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Enormous old cedars along the Cedar Grove Trail.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Deer fern.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Walking the old logging roads on Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • A raccoon searches for his dinner in the mud flats.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Low tide south of Long Island.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Eel grass at low tide.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Black-tail deer on Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Digging for clams near Louse Rocks, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Paddling into a significant headwind on Willapa Bay.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Sunset over Willapa Bay.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Sunset over Willapa Bay.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Deer tracks beside an unidentified set of paw prints (help us identify them by providing feedback).- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Long Island, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
  • Looking across to the boat launch at the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.- Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island Unit
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Abundant wildlife. Beautiful scenery. Campgrounds. Trails.
Cons: 
Mosquitoes. Tidal logistics.
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Region:
Southwest Washington Coast, WA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

Created in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge consists of several management units in Washington’s Willapa Bay just north of the mouth of the Columbia River. Leadbetter Point, the northernmost portion of the refuge, is located at the very tip of Long Beach Peninsula, which forms the barrier between the bay and the Pacific. Several more units sit due east from the base of the peninsula, and the Long Island Unit occupies the southern portion of the bay.

Together these units offer 11,000 acres of habitat for a wide array of birds, mammals, terrestrial and intertidal invertebrates, and fish. Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and American black bears are among the larger mammals, while Chinook, chum, coho salmon circulate in the bay along with steelhead, sculpin, and sturgeon. Willapa Bay is well known for the clams that dwell in the vast mud flats that form in the bay. Willapa Bay was originally established to protect bird habitat, and the success of the protection is manifest: eagles, hawks herons, wrens, pelicans, woodpeckers, kingfishers, owls, and countless songbirds are just some of the 200 species that live here. Fourteen endangered species may also be found, including the western snowy plover, the marbled murrelet, and the Oregon silverspot butterfly.

The Long Island Unit, the largest unit by area, is an easy paddle from the boat launch near the headquarters and visitor center. Twenty first-come, first-served campsites distributed among the island’s five campgrounds mean visitors can enjoy the unusual opportunity to spend the night, or several, in a wildlife refuge. Because Willapa is such a shallow bay, the tidal effect is mesmerizing; it can be enough to find a comfortable vantage point and spend the day watching for wildlife as the landscape changes around you. An old logging road system makes exploring the island’s interior easy, whether you’re interested in a short stroll or a longer exploration of the Don Bonker Cedar Grove or any of the neighboring camps. Alternately, roll up your pants and head out at low tide to gather clams from the public shellfishing areas.

The mud flats that emerge at low tide mean that access to and from the island is best accomplished at or near high tide, though the landing directly across from the boat launch is accessible at all tides. Arriving at other areas on Long Island outside of this timeframe carries the real risk of becoming stranded on the mud flats. Strong winds can be a significant challenge to paddlers as well. It is roughly 2 miles from the boat launch to Pinnacle Rock Campground, closer to 3.5 miles to Smokey Hollow Campground, just under 5 miles to Sand Spit Campground, and just over 5 miles to Lewis Campground on the eastern side of the island.

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(5 within a 30 mile radius)

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