Throughout the refuge, you may see signs of a very large group of animals having passed that way. You may hear people talk of having seen the big elk herd, with some saying that there were as many as 400 elk.
However, actually seeing the elk is a very unusual event, or at least it has been, as they usually keep themselves hidden away from people.
However, as winter turns into spring and the days get longer, their evening grazing grounds become well lit, and it is possible to stay in the refuge longer as the refuge closes at sunset. However, the days are not hot yet, so they do not seek the shade in these times - at least not yet.
The elk seem to prefer the open grasslands of the refuge, but only the edges of these areas - along the transition from forest to grasslands. While the photo here was taken from the Prairie Overlook on Finley Refuge Road, they are more frequently seen in the fields on the very south side of the refuge, and visible from Bruce Road. During 2010 they were very frequently seen in the fields directly east of the refuge headquarters office. Based on their very trails through the forest along the Mill Hill loop, it is possible to come across them in the forest as well. However, the trails they leave behind in the forest never seem extremely fresh and it is possible that they only use those forest routes at night, when the refuge is closed to people.
Obviously, you would not want to get in their way or otherwise do anything offensive to them if you find yourself nearby, and really it is best to observe such large animals at a distance. Even if they don't intend to hurt you, even a gentle nudge from something this large can cause injury.
Many wildlife refuges are broken into two sections. William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge is one of them. The Snag Boat Bend Unit has hiking trails and a very small parking area, but it is nowhere near as well visited as the main part of the refuge. Therefore, I have considered the Snag Boat Bend Unit to be off the beaten path.
This is particularly the case now that the bridge over the slough on which the refuge sits has been determined to be unsafe for vehicle traffic. There is now only parking space for two vehicles, and it is necessary to go climb around or open the big gate at the entrance. The refuge looks closed, but it isn't: the gate is unlocked and it is possible to open it and walk in.
Snag Boat Bend Unit has a number of trails, and currently one bird blind.
The approximate address of the location is 28824 Peoria Road, Halsey, Oregon. There is basically no parking available at the entrance to the refuge (very restricted).
There are two ways to get there: from I-5, take the Halsey exit and head west on highway 228. Go through Halsey. The road name changes to American Drive. After several miles, turn right onto Peoria Road. In somewhat less than a mile, the entrance to this part of the refuge is on the left. Good Luck finding a place to put the car!
To get there from the Corvallis area, go east on highway 20 / 34 to just outside Corvallis, where you turn right onto Peoria Road. Continue south approximately 11 miles, through the community of Peoria, to the entrance to the refuge, which is on the right. Good Luck finding a place to put the car!
From the main section of the Finley Wildlife Refuge, you will have to head north on highway 99W to Corvallis, cross the river to Peoria Road, and head south from there using the above instructions.
While the primary purpose of the William L Finley National Wildlife Refuge is as a home to wildlife, there are also a number of historic structures that are on the property. All of these are currently closed to the public, except on special open house days when a few of the structures may be open to the public.
The Cheadle Barn is not one of the structures that is open to the public, as the structure condition is not extremely good.
It is thought that the structure dates to around 1900, with the additional coverings surrounding the structure dating to the 1940s or 1950s. One of the more unique features of the structure is the completely enclosed lift area for hoisting material into the loft. Most of the time such hoist areas only have a small additional covering.
In the summer months, swallows nest in many places in the barn.
While it is not possible to go into the barn, it is possible to get reasonably close to it on the outside. DO NOT GO INTO THE BARN as it is an extremely fragile structure and there are many unsafe parts to it.
The easiest way to access the structure is from Bruce Road, and walk north from the parking area across Bruce Road from the Bruce Road Refuge Overlook. The barn is visible north of Bruce Road. The refuge maintenance road that runs north from Bruce Road Refuge Overlook goes almost all the way to it, with a mowed pathway going north from a bend in the road up to the barn itself.
Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers