William Finley National Wildlife Refuge Things to Do
An elevated platform sitting in the middle of a fairly level field is the first item of any significance that visitors come to when they visit Finley National Wildlife Refuge from the north side (Finley Refuge Road side).I was relatively unimpressed with the wildlife viewing options here the first time I visited the refuge. However, I have since...more
Up until 2009, the refuge headquarters was located in a historic (1912) game hunting lodge (the Cabell Lodge) near the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail parking area. In late 2009, the refuge headquarters moved into their new and modernized office space, which also features a store where the volunteers sell items to support the activities of the...more
Much of the land along Bruce Road is flat, with some forest land, some open marshes, and some open farm fields. However, approximately 1 mile west of the intersection of Bruce Road and Highway 99W, there is a small hill. Bruce Road goes straight over the northern part of it, not bothering to take a slight detour through the more flat area to the...more
In late summer of 2011, the final touches were put on the new observation shelter at the refuge headquarters. This new shelter allows visitors a location that is somewhat hidden from wildlife, but still allows views of the two ponds directly behind the refuge headquarters. The shelter is not large, nor does it provide any wind shelter. There are...more
The parking area for this trail is fairly hidden from the road, but the way to get to it is also very well marked. The location is on the south side of Finely Refuge Road, and this trail runs for about 1/3 of a mile through forest land that in the winter time can be flooded. The enitre length of this trail is on elevated walkway, and if someone is...more
In 2011, construction of a new intertie trail between the Woodpecker Loop Trail and the Mill Hill Loop Trail was both started and completed. This new trail provides an all-forest route between these two all-year trails. This avoids walking on the refuge maintenance road that is part of the old Mill Hill loop trail (which can be a little confusing...more
Outside of winter, when a number of trails are closed due to protection of migrating birds, there is an extensive network of trails in the refuge. Most of these make use of refuge maintenance roads. The Cabell Marsh Trail is one of these.All-year access to the Cabell Marsh is available by using the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail, but this only...more
Located on the grounds of the wildlife refuge headquarters, what the refuge literature calls a "kiosk" is really a very well made overlook of the Cabell Marsh.It is located quite some distance from the marsh, so you will definitely need telephoto eqiupment (binoculars, spotting scopes, telephoto lenses, etc.) for making full use of the platform...more
According to the literature, Pigeon Butte is the highest point in the refuge (though it certainly doesn't look that way to me when looking at it from Mill Hill or the summit of the Woodpecker Trail). While it isn't very tall compared to the nearby Coast Range or the Cascades that can be seen in the distance, it is one of a number of odd singular...more
Bruce Road runs through the southern part of Finley National Wildlife Refuge, and features trailheads for several seasonal trails.The Beaver Pond and Cattail Marsh Trails (these are essentially one trail) start on the north side of Bruce Road in a location that is known to be historically significant because the road which makes up the trail was...more
Located on the north side of Finley Refuge Road, slightly to the east of the parking area for the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail, this photo blind is available by reservation only during the refuge's "winter" months - November 1 to March 31.The photo blind may be reserved during the rest of the year, but there is no limit on public access to the...more
At one time, this house served as the National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, but as time went on it became obvious that this historic building could no longer serve the functions of the refuge office and remain a historic structure. Therefore, in late 2009, the refuge offices were relocated to a new building near the Mill Hill trailhead.This...more
Linking the Mill Hill Trail and Woodpecker Trail loops, this trail helps create six miles of contiguous all year hiking trail within the refuge. (An additional 6 miles is available only during the non-migration period.)Unfortunately there are no benches of any sort along this trail that would allow someone to just sit and wait for wildlife to pass...more
While it is true that almost everyone who comes to the Finley Wildlife Refuge comes to see the wildlife and to participate in outdoor activities, the wildlife refuge is also the home to some historic buildings. The most significant of these is the John Fiechter House, which dates to 1855 (additions were added on throughout the life of the house)...more
3 miles (5 km) in length, the Mill Hill Trail is a loop that is by far the longest of the all-year trails that are available in the National Wildlife Refuge. Much of the trail is in oak savanna, which is relatively rare in the Willamette Valley these days (only about 1% of the original pre-European settlement vegetation remains). Some of the trail...more
William Finley National Wildlife Refuge Restaurants
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There are no restaurants on the National Wildlife Refuge itself. However, there are a few establishments nearby that sort of qualify, and not much exists in terms of surrounding communities as the area surrounding the refuge is farm or forest land. Therefore, while the address for Hazelnut Hill is listed as Corvallis, it is really only just outside the borders of the refuge, while Corvallis is some 15 minutes away.
Located on highway 99W directly east of the refuge, Hazelnut Hill is a farm that operates a retail store featuring the treats that are grown, made, or made from items grown, right there on the property. These primarily consist of ice cream and various fresh fruits mixed with chocolate.
You can also find a few local greeting cards here, and a number of other items.
While you are here, look up at the large collection of nut crackers in all their decorated glory. Some of them are quite large!
Be sure to try the samples so that you can see what items you like the best.
If it is a hot day, be sure to use have some ice cream here!
There are several outdoor locations, so if it is a nice day, you may want to go down by the duck pond, or one of the other outdoor locations far from the dusty parking lot.
You might be able to con one of the employees into allowing you to have a tour of the various places, and there is a window between the hallway and the candy making press, so you can watch what you are eating in a very literal sense.
How to Get Here: Coming from the north or south, watch for entrance signs for the national wildlife refuge on roads leading to the west. If you are coming from the north these will be on Finley Refuge Road, and if you are coming from the south these will be on Bruce Road. Drive past these refuge entry signs, and start watching for the signs on the east side that indicate the entrance to the Hazelnut Hill farm. Turn at the signs at the gravel driveway. After entering the gravel driveway, continue east following the signs at several divisions for approximately 1/2 a mile (1 km). There is a hot unshaded parking lot close to the store, and a shaded parking lot somewhat further from the store, both with signs indicating the location.
Favorite Dish: I can't possibly think of anything from here as being not good. It's all good. It's all way too good!
For $5.25, the 8 ounce (227 gram) bag of Razzcherries in Dark Chocolate seem extravagant, but just having one of them will give you a taste that will last for just as long as a huge dessert at some other places. After you have eaten one it will seem like a great value.
Remember that it is all made right here, and therefore it is literally hand made craft rather than coming from some mass produced plant with several thousand employees.
Don't forget about the ice cream, if it is a hot day!
Please note that some of these items do contain high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, rather than cane sugar.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
William Finley National Wildlife Refuge Transportation
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It is fairly easy to find information about the wildlife refuge. At some of the trail heads, observation points, and other points of interest (please note that this does not include ALL of the locations: just some of them) you will find an information station with a set of literature.
Photo 1 shows the standard set of literature available in these literature racks:
from left to right:
1. a map of all of the Willamette Valley wildlife refuge locations, and basic information about the facilities and wildlife possibilities at each of these refuges.
2. seasonal check list of birds in the Willamette Valley Complex of Wildlife Refuges. These are birds you will probably find, may never find, or sometimes happen to come through.
3. a brocure titled "William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge Trail Descriptions". This is a much more useful brocure than a simple list of trails and their description, because inside the brocure is a fairly detailed map of the refuge, the roads that pass through it, and the location of the various trails, buildings, and what areas are seasonally closed to the public.
4. a brocure for those wishing to become friends of the wildlife refuge, in order to help out on regular work crews that help restore and maintain the refuge for all (both people and animals) to enjoy.
Photo 2 shows what these literature rack shelters look like. These may be found at the trailhead for the Mill Hill trail and at the Finley Refuge Road information kiosk just as you enter the refuge. They are not located at the Woodpecker Trailhead or at the Campbell Memorial Trailhead. So, while these may require some effort to locate, they really are not extremely hard to find. You just need to know what you are looking for.
PLEASE NOTE: The exact appearance of the sign may be slightly different than what you see in the photo. What you are looking for is something with the literature rack underneath, as seen in photo 1. For example, the sign in one location may have a great blue heron on it, and have slightly different wording, than the sign pictured here. What is pictured here is the sign at the Mill Hill trailhead, and advises people that there is another whole section of the refuge that they have yet to explore, if they think they are done here.
Photo 3 shows the inside of the brocure called "William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge Trail Descriptions" and shows the map of the refuge.
Photo 4 shows a detail view of the map inside the brocure. The map may look very primitive, but remember that these maps must be reproduced and quicly modified if necessary using very little resources and money. Therefore, unfortunately, these maps are as best as are possible under the circumstances. Be glad they are available, and are available free of charge.
Photo 5 shows typical signs in the refuge. In some areas the signs are very good, but you need to be able to relate the names of locations to where you want to go, so it is still a good idea to have a map with you.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
William Finley National Wildlife Refuge Shopping
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As the only store located anywhere on the refuge, perhaps its most unique feature is that it is here at all.
For many years, there wasn't such a store here, but today refuge staff and volunteers help raise funds for various projects by operating this little store, which has been incorporated into the new refuge headquarters building.
The store is open 10 to 4 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
What to buy: This depends entirely on what you need!
+ Wildlife themed artworks and trinkets.
+ Endangered Species Chocolate: Choclate bars that raise funds for the cause of preserving wildlife.
+ Educational books and materials for adults and children
And a variety of other things. The space is very limited, but there is enough here, but it is the only store like this anywhere in the area, let alone on the refuge.Related to:
William Finley National Wildlife Refuge Warnings and Dangers
Late August marks the opening of bow hunting season, which continues through late September. Almost all of October is devoted to shot gun hunting (no rifles). If you visit the refuge during this period, it would probably be a good idea to wear clothing that notifies others of your presence, especially if you go out into the trails area where...more
It should be noted that the type of poison oak we have on the west coast of the USA is Rhus diversiloba, which is a different plant that what is found in the eastern USA.Believe it or not, poison oak is a very attractive plant. The leaves on the lower growth turn a wonderful shade of red after a time, the flowers are fairly attractive, the fruit is...more
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William Finley National Wildlife Refuge What to Pack
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Dress for the weather, and for where you will be. There is forest on the Mill Hill trail, but no shelter at all on many of the summer-only trails. These can become quite exceedingly hot during an oppressive summer day.
If it has been wet, you can expect mud and in some cases water over the trail surface in some places, especially parts of the Mill Hill Loop Trail.
Photo Equipment: Due to the distance at which many of the animals are from public trails or viewpoints, telephoto equipment (not just camera lenses, but also binoculars, spotting scopes, etc.) will be very helpful. Only certain veiew points have permanent spotting scopes available.
Please see my Telephoto Equipment Tip which is located at
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: It would probably be a good idea to have insect repellant. I have never had a problem with mosquitos here, but it is certainly a possibility as there are some swampy areas. Many of the water bodies have enough motion that they do not seem to promote mosquitos, however.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
William Finley National Wildlife Refuge Off The Beaten Path
As best as I can tell (ie, there are no exterior markings saying as such) this barn is part of a private farm and has no relation at all to Oregon State University.However it is, the owners must be BIG fans of Oregon State University. After all, they painted their entire barn in this eye-catching patchwork of colors, with OSU across the roof in...more
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...more
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...more
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