"Willard Springs Trail" Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge Things to Do Tip by glabah
Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge Things to Do: 7 reviews and 24 photos
The only trail on the refuge is a two mile loop trail that starts at the refuge headquarters and heads north through the edge of the forest along one of the small waterways on the refuge. About 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the refuge headquarters there is a small spring named Willard Springs. It isn't too much to look at in the end days of summer, when there hasn't been much rain and the snow melt from Mount Adams is nearing its lowest point. However, the area around the springs and the forest between the refuge headquarters and there may allow you a chance to get a look at some of the area wildlife.
Approximately 1/3 of the way to the springs from the refuge headquarters you will find a raised observation platform that allows a view of Mount Adams and some of the open land to the west of the forest. Some of this is a seasonal wetlands and therefore sometimes some wetlands birds may be seen there.
The trail runs through the edge of the forest, which allows for some viewing of the open area to the west of the forest, while allowing the trees to act as a natural viewing blind.
As you can see from the map (see photo 5), one way to get to this trail is following a trail around a loop that crosses a small waterway. NOTE: This section may be very wet during spring runoff. This section of the trail is a place I have called the Lower Loop Trail but it is all part of the same trail. What is not shown on the map is a new link that runs from the main entrance near the sign at the refuge headquarters that links the far end of the trail back to the parking lot. See my Trail Updates for 2014 tip for a few photos of the new trail arrangement.
There is are two "short cut trails" (shown on the signs) that form shorter sections of loop trail, and allow for shorter hikes if you so desire.
Seasonally, there are ducks and other water birds in the waterway to the east of the trail, and you may get to see some sandhill cranes in the farm fields that are out past the waterway along the lower end of the trail.
The forest itself is inhabited by a number of smaller birds, but it does take some doing to see them. This is still a fairly wild forest, and much of the wildlife tends to hide when people are around. Even so, depending on the season and time of day woodpeckers, flycatchers, chickadee (especially mountain chickadee) and white breasted nuthatches may be found here. You have to keep your eyes and ears opened for them, and you may only see them if you are lucky. Remember, this refuge is surrounded by miles of wilderness and thus the bird life and other wildlife found here is not used to people at all. Quietly walking through the forest and taking time to stop and listen is your best bet, and give the wildlife time to get curious about you and time to think that you may not be a threat to them.
Along this trail I have seen and heard both red breasted and white breasted nuthatches, hairy and downy woodpeckers, chickadee of various types, fly catchers of various types, Bewick's wren, sandhill cranes (in grass field near spot where trail enters the forest), harrier (out in field beyond the waterway, but visible from the trail), belted kingfisher (in bushes and on wire near waterway) and yellow rumped warblers.
Photo 1 shows the main trailhead at the refuge headquarters and parking area.
Photo 2 shows that Willard Springs really isn't that much of a spring in late summer and early autumn. However, water levels in the area change quite a lot between spring runoff and the summer dry season.
Photo 3 shows the rather unassuming junction of the refuge headquarters road and the Willard Springs Trail loop through the forest. From here you walk along the road to get between the parking area and the trail to complete the loop. While this may sound unpleasant, the fact is the refuge doesn't get too many visitors, and so you don't really have to fight traffic that much.
Photo 4 shows the primary mixed Lodgepole and Pinderosa Pine forest along much of the trail.
Address: 100 Wildlife Refuge Road, Glenwood, Wash 98619
Directions: From Trout Lake - Glenwood Road turn into entrance area of refuge at the Refuge entrance sign. This is between Cemetery Road (north side) and Laurel Road (south side). Trail head and parking is just past refuge headquarters.
Phone: (509) 364-3410
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