Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Southwest Washington > Vancouver Area
45.5715, -122.3186 Map & Directions
Length
6.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
55 feet
Highest Point
60 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy/Moderate
View of Mount Hood from Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Ryan Ojerio.
  • Wildlife
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Good for kids

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Refuge Entrance Pass

A birder's paradise, this wildlife refuge is the perfect getaway without a long drive. The refuge includes mixed wetlands and pastures with riparian strips lined with cottonwoods and white oak trees. More than 200 species of waterfowl and songbirds have been recorded here, making it the perfect place to slow down and enjoy nature. Continue reading

Rating
4.00 out of 5

(3 votes) Log in to rate

Hiking Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

This wildlife refuge is the perfect get-away without a long drive. The refuge includes mixed wetlands and pastures with riparian strips lined with cottonwoods and white oak trees. More than 200 species of waterfowl and songbirds have been recorded here, making it the perfect place to slow down and enjoy nature.

On May 1, 2022, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge reopened after a two year, $25 million project to restore 965 acres of habitat. Gone are the wide-open grassy areas, straight trail and old levees. Visitors are now greeted with more wetlands, a longer trail system, new bridges, interpretive features — and a much greater diversity of wildlife.

The restoration project included a complete reconfiguration of the existing levee system, reconnecting the refuge and Gibbons Creek to the lower Columbia River. The trail system is now 2 miles longer, and it’s also a lot more diverse. Instead of just walking along the river, the trail now weaves into and out of the refuge and crosses a couple of channels with new bridges.

The hiker-only Mountain View Trail starts at the parking lot and follows the top of the west levee for one mile one-way, out-and-back to the Columbia River where it intersects with the Refuge River Trail. The trail is 12 feet wide compacted gravel and provides views of Mount Hood on a clear day. This elevated trail is great for wildlife observation and photography. It is part of a larger trail network. There are no shaded areas or wind protection on this trail.

The Refuge River Trail is open to hikers, joggers, horseback riding, bicycles and dogs on leash. This out-and-back trail follows the dike top along the Columbia River. The trail can be accessed from the western entrance of the Refuge near Index Street at the east end of William Clark Park or by the hiker only Mountain View Trail. From Index Street, this trail meets up with the Mountain View Trail after about a mile and continues east for 2.5 miles more. This trail parallels the Columbia River and then meanders further into the refuge. Two large foot bridges and a viewpoint overlooking the river allows you different ways to connect and view the refuge. The trail surface is mostly compacted gravel except for .3 mile of soft sand between the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail connection points.   

The hiker-only 1 mile Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail is accessed from the Refuge River Trail, 0.3-mile east of its intersection with the Mountain View Trail. It wraps around Redtail Lake and over two bridges before reconnecting again with the Refuge River Trail. You will not find signs to read, but art to discover as you explore. Look for quotes hidden among the stone benches, unique sculptures, and wildlife cutout bike racks. A small out and back trail heads west off the second bridge to a short dead end looking out over a wetland. The return hike along the Refuge River Trail to reconnect with the Mountain View Trail is 1 mile.

Get a trail guide and map from the Department of Fish and Wildlife's website.

Toilet Information

  • Toilet at trailhead
  • Accessible toilet

More information about toilets

Wheelchair Accessibility

The Mountain View Trail is compacted gravel and 12-feet wide with a maximum slope of 5% climb from the parking area to the levee top. The main entrance has a parking lot with one ADA van parking/unloading spot and one additional ADA parking spot.

Hike Description Written by
Susan Saul, WTA Correspondent

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.5715, -122.3186 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Refuge Entrance Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From I-5 in Vancouver, go east on SR 14 about 18 miles to the refuge entrance on the right. Check the refuge website for opening and closing times for the automatic gate at the refuge entrance.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Southwest Washington > Vancouver Area

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge. Craig Romano. Mountaineer Publishing. 2011.

Vancouver Parks and Recreation Website

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

18 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
 
Trip Reports