Several of the National Wildlife Refuges in the state of Washington have decided to beyond installing informatonal and educational signs along their trails. In addition to the signs, now they are adding interpretive art to get people thinking even further about the place and living things that inhabit the place.
The Willapa Interpretive Art Trail is the interpretive art trail in the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. The trail has a number of artworks alongside it (see photos of artwork along the trail) but it isn't just about the artwork. The trail spends a considerable amount of time climbing steep hills through the woods.
The forest here was logged off many years ago, but you can still see some of the remains of the huge trees that once dominated the forest here. While the trees that live here now are reasonably impressive, they are tiny compared to the large tree stumps and other remains that show just how large the trees once were here.
Perhaps in another 500 years or so people will once again be able to enjoy trees of huge size in this forest.
In the meantime, you can walk through the woods and see what is here, which includes restored salmon habitat, a healthy (though fairly young) forest, ponds and other wetlands associated with the nearby bay and creek, and a fair amount of wildlife information.
The trail is fairly short, but it is very steep in places. There are stair-like constructions built into the hill to help people climb the trail, and there is one place where an entire downed tree was left as it was to naturally decay, and instead stairs were built over the tree.
The lower section of the trail is mostly built on smooth walkways, however, and anyone should be able to navigate those parts of the trail.
As there is a dedicated travelogue for photos of the artwork along the trail the photos you will see here reflect general features of the trail.
Photo 1: view of walkway along the wetlands created by a small stream that comes out of the forest hills and enters the bay here at the refuge headquarters.
Photo 2: view of a pond next to the artwork trail that is designed to attract various wildlife.
Photo 3: steep sections of the trail through the woods have steep stairs carved into the hillside to make it somewhat easier to climb the hills.
Photo 4: a small bridge over the stream that runs through the forest. Note the white bar above the bridge. This is one of the artwork features of the trail: sculptures of birds that are seen in all sections of the refuge.
Photo 5: one of the bird sculptures that illustrates the shape and colors of birds that are found in all parts of the refuge. The name of the birds is on the white pole near the bird sculpture at the end of the pole. Due to the length of the pole and its flexibility, the bird sculpture will bounce back and forth a little in the wind, if it blows hard enough.