A Host of Honkers: William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge is a 14.5 mile loop trail located near Corvallis, OR. The trail is primarily used for hiking and birding.
I went to the William Finley Wildlife Refuge on a "partly sunny" early April day, starting the hike at 9AM.
I parked at the Cabell Lodge parking lot and headed first to the Homer Campbell boarwalk. Loved the bordwalk meandering a few feet above the marsh and crossing a small tributary of Muddy Creek before ending at the edge of Cabell Marsh (nice view of the marsh from the lookout structure at the end of the boardwalk.
I then headed South along Cabell marsh in the direction of Cheadle Barn and the Cheadle Marsh. The sweeping view of Cabell mash and the very large meadows North of Pigeon Butte were very soothing and "grounding" in the early morning fog.
The fog lifted as I reached the Cheadle marsh loop. The very tall grash on the East side of the Cheadle marsh, heavy with morning dew, made for slower progress. However, the relative "intimacy" of that side of the marsh was worth every slightly labored step. At the end of the loop, I circled the Cheadle barn where (according to another morning stroller) barn owls can sometimes be seen. I did not see any that morning.
From the Cheadle barn, I retraced my steps to the the turnoff toward the Pigeon Butte quarry. I went to the top of the butte and had lunch sitting on a friendly flat rock at the edge of the quarry, listening to the raucous chatter of a very large assembly of geese to the south, across Bruce road. The Pigeon butte spur offers wide open views of the South end of the refuge.
Leaving Pigeon butte, I retraced my steps further to the southern tip of Cabell marsh, at which point I turned left in the direction of Cattail pond and Beaver Pond. After about a mile I turned left once again to walk the edge of cattail pond and forge further south to the Western foot of Pigeon butte and another right turn that would lead me to Beaver pond. That section of the trail is "unimproved" (as the refuge map indicates) and does have many muddy and someone overgrown sections. The tree cover was however welcome now that the sun was relentlessly shining down on the refuge.
Beyond Beaver pond, I continues the clockwise walk through the refuge and took the Mill Hill loop trail in the South West corner. Just before completing the loop, I continued on Mill Hill trail toward Intertie trail in order to reach the Woodpecker loop that would lead me back down to the main refuge "auto tour" dirt road and back to the Cabell Lodge.
All together, this hike was a hair under 14.5 miles, mostly "flatish" with the high point at Pigeon butte and a little bit of elevation gain around Mill Hill and at the western end of Woodpecker Loop. I have uploaded the complete track of this hike on this site as well.
I would definitely go back for shorter walks: Homer Campbell to Cabell marsh and back for example, or just Woodpecker loop, or just Cheadle marsh and Cheadle barn if parking along Bruce Road.
A good one to take the kids to, easy if a bit muddy in spots. Bring the boots!