Hike Distance: 6.2 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1256.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 430 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 165920 feet
My son and I went out to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge to investigate two things: The Carty unit Oaks to Wetland trail had reopened after all the fir trees were removed, and second was to investigate the new trails that border the southern end of the wildlife refuge.
We started out by crossing the bridge and heading north on the Oaks to Wetland trail. It was a clear beautiful day so the views were initially gorgeous. We then came to the sign for the recently opened Oaks to Wetland trail, and it looked closed per the sign, but looking closer there was a sheet of paper covering the Open sign!
The carnage started as soon as we crossed the wood walkway. I was expecting to see a few trees to be removed, but instead it looked like an awful clearcut. To say this area was devastated would be an understatement. It’s true that all the Oaks were still standing but the number of fir trees removed were in the hundreds! 😦 Many of these trees were Old Growth, and it saddened me. The trail was now defined by sticks on either side of the trail. In addition, there used to be access to a few viewpoints that gave views of large bodies of water, but all spur trails were removed!
I guess the good news is that eventually this area will be a revitalized Oak Wetland with plenty of animal species inhabiting it, but probably not in my lifetime. Also, the trees were given to an indian trible to help with salmon habitat. Mind you, I’m not judging why this was done but rather am turned off by the magnitude of how much had to be removed in order to restore the habitat. I personally won’t be visiting this area very much as it depresses me.
After completing the Oaks to Wetland trail we headed south on the trail past Carty Lake. This is a very nice hike and the lake is beautiful. There were some Egrets feeding in the lake so birding would be fun now! We soon reached the new southern entrance into the wildlife refuge. There are some trails south of the wildlife refuge that provide views of Lake River. There are actually a few trails to explore south of the wildlife refuge, and we walked all of them. It’s also interesting to note that the main trail, leading south, ends at a picnic area near a marina on Lake River and a Kayak rental/launch is also there!
A nice day with some exploration, and a bit of heartache over the clearcut, but still fun to be with my son in the nice weather!