Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Kiwa Trail Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Killdeer on her nest, Kiwa Trail (bobcat)
Western painted turtle basking in Bower Slough (bobcat)
Indian plum along the Kiwa Trail (bobcat)
Male gadwall on South East Lake (bobcat)
Yellowthroat in willow, Kiwa Trail (bobcat)
American bittern near Deep Lake (bobcat)
Map showing the loop (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Kiwa TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: North East Lake
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 0 feet
  • High Point: 15 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: May 1st through September 30th
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

The Kiwa Trail is a short, flat birdwatching loop that opens for the public on May 1st. It is on the 4.2 mile Auto Tour Route in the River 'S' Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, just south of the town of Ridgefield. It is best visited soon after it opens in May and in the early morning or evening.

From the trailhead parking area, cross Bower Slough, where yellow iris bloom in the spring. Watch for western painted turtles basking on boughs in the water. At an intersection and map, go right through an ash swale, passing a blind on our left. Then come to an open area, with South East Lake on your left lined with bulrushes. Pacific tree frogs light up a chorus, and wood ducks, cinnamon teal, and muskrats frequent these waters. The trail bends left on a low dyke through reed canary-grass and bulrush, with single willow and ash trees dotted about. North East Lake is on your right. Make a jink right into an area of willows (look for warblers, blackbirds, doves, and woodpeckers here), and cross a footbridge. In spring, wapato will be sprouting in the broad shallows of Middle Lake. Go left over a wooden bridge. Look for American bitterns, still as stalks of grass, and enjoy the incessant whinnying of rails and the warbles and trills of marsh wrens. Cross another wooden bridge. In this open area, rimmed by a forest of cattails, great blue herons stalk for frogs. Enter an avenue of ash along Bower Slough. Cottontail rabbits might freeze at your approach, and waxwings forage in the leafy canopy above. Reach the junction with the large map and turn right to get back to the trailhead parking area.

After hiking the Kiwa Trail, complete the Auto Tour Route to get close-up photos of wildlife using your car as a blind. (You may also walk the 4.2 mile route between May 1st and September 30th, but being on foot will not usually bring you closer to wildlife.)


  • Bring binoculars!
  • The Ridgefield BirdFest is held around the middle of October every year.
  • There are also guided birding hikes in the spring and fall.
  • The trail is packed gravel and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • There is a $3 fee per person at the entrance station kiosk as you drive in to the River 'S' Unit. Envelopes are available at the kiosk and the stub must be carried with you. All of the fees collected remain on-site. A host of passes are accepted including:
    • Ridgefield Annual Refuge Pass ($15)
    • Federal Duck Stamp ($25)
    • Interagency Annual Pass ($80)
    • Interagency Senior Pass/Golden Age Passport ($20)
    • Interagency Access Pass/Golden Access Passport (free)
    • Interagency Volunteer Pass (free)
    • Interagency Military Pass (free)
  • The trail is closed October 1st to April 30th.
  • Dogs are not permitted anywhere in the refuge.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • The Disabled Hiker's Guide to Western Washington and Oregon by Syren Nagakyrie
  • Urban Trails: Vancouver by Craig Romano
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine edited by Michael C. Houck and M.J. Cody

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.