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Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking out over the refuge (Cheryl Hill)
Doorway to the seasonal trail (Cheryl Hill)
Bridge over Gibbons Creek (Cheryl Hill)
  • Start point: Steigerwald Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 0 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year-round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This easy loop hike will take you through a wildlife refuge that opened to the public in summer 2010. The refuge contains more than 1,000 acres of wetlands, a stand of Oregon white oaks, cottonwood trees, and grassland habitats.

From the trailhead, the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail heads south along the west side of the marshy area that is Steigerwald Lake. Right away on your left you'll see an overlook where you can look out over the refuge. Note the nature quotes carved into the rocks here.

The trail continues south, crossing a boardwalk and passing through open meadows which are filled with tall green grasses in early summer. After passing through a grove of cottonwoods the trail comes to a junction. Straight ahead is an artistic doorway through which you can pass May through September. (The trail behind the doorway is closed October through April so that wintering birds can be left undisturbed.) If you're here when the door is open, continue straight through it.

The trail passes through more open terrain, with views to the west of Larch Mountain on the Oregon side of the river. You'll notice the occasional piece of artwork along the trail (hence the name of this trail). You'll pass through another artistic doorway and intersect with the Columbia River Dike Hike. To loop back to the trailhead turn right, but not before looking southeast to admire Vista House atop Crown Point on the Oregon side of the river.

Continue west along the dike trail until you reach a side trail heading back into the refuge. You'll reach a long boardwalk/bridge along the edge of Redtail Lake before making a sharp right turn and then crossing another bridge, which is 110 feet long and is the second-longest single-span, recycled fiberglass bridge in the world. At the other end you'll be back at the junction with the first artistic doorway. Turn left to return to your car.

If you're visiting October through April when the loop trail is closed, when you reach the doorway stay on the main trail which connects with the East Dike Trail. You can turn around when you get to that trail, or head right or left to meander for awhile for before turning back.


Fees and Regulations

  • Loop section of this hike closed from October 1st to April 30th.
  • Dogs not permitted.
  • Obey all refuge and private property signs restricting access.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge 2011 edition, by Craig Romano
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington by Susan Elderkin
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Oregon & Washington: 50 Hikes With Kids by Wendy Gorton
  • Peaceful Places: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker

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.