Strolling Through Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge

Recently Troy and I got a little tired of being indoors and decided to go check out one of the nature preserves nearby. One of the things I love about Oregon is that there are several nature preserves and wildlife refuges within a very short distance of where we live. We’ve both lived in big cities and the main thing we both disliked about them was the lack of nature. Here, though, in Oregon, nature abounds and we love it.

The place we chose to go explore is called Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has been around since 1965 and consists of 2,700 acres of natural habitat for a variety of species. Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.There are several places to stop and see nature inside the refuge. The first place we stopped was at Eagle Marsh. It is the largest marsh in the refuge is home to Canada geese, American white pelicans, American bittern, and northern pintail.  I was amazed at how beautiful it is and really wanted to see some of those birds, but there weren’t any out when we were there.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Eagle Marsh

You can’t wander through the area around the marsh, but there is a viewing kiosk with various informational panels and a wonderful view of the area.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Eagle Marsh Kiosk

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Eagle Marsh

If you look up while inside the kiosk you will see several strange features on the ceiling. At first I thought they were wasp nests, but then this little guy popped his head out. He’s a cliff swallow and is sitting in a nest made out of dried mud from the marsh.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Cliff Swallow

After we left Eagle Marsh, we drove over to Ankeny Overlook. It has a short trail that leads to an overlook platform with informational placards.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Ankeny Overlook

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

View from the Ankeny Overlook parking lot

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Ankeny Overlook Trail

The station at Ankeny Overlook isn’t covered like the one at Eagle Marsh and it gives a really great view of the preserve.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Ankeny Overlook

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Ankeny Overlook

We didn’t spend very long at Ankeny Overlook before we headed over to Rail Trail. Rail Trail is a two-park walk. The first part is a wooden boardwalk over a marsh (it’s pretty cool) that ends at a bird blind on the edge of Duck Pond. That part is about .75 miles. If you go on past that, the boardwalk takes you out of the trees to a grass trail that skirts around Duck Pond and takes you to the opposite end of the parking lot. The whole trail is roughly 1.75 miles and is pretty easy.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Rail Trail starts out with a dirt path that goes around the edge of a forest.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

After a few minutes it stops skirting the forest and goes inside.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Eventually the trail leads to a wooden boardwalk that weaves its way through the marsh to a bird blind overlooking Duck Pond.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Rail Trail Boardwalk by Duck Pond

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Rail Trail Boardwalk by Duck Pond

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Rail Trail Bird Blind by Duck Pond

We saw this while we were walking and I had to laugh. It’s pretty clever.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Duck Pond

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Rail Trail Boardwalk by Duck Pond

Once you leave the boardwalk you can go two ways, but only between April and September. If you turn right (which is what we did) you’ll go around Duck Pond via the Woodland Loop & Prairie Extension and end up back at the parking lot at the end opposite where you started. That trail is roughly a mile long.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

Rail Trail Woodland Loop & Prairie Extension by Duck Pond

If you go left you will loop around the pond and meet back up with the trail where the boardwalk began. Before meeting back up with the original trail there are various offshoot trails and loops that will take you further into the marsh. Depending on which ones you take, that will add .75 to 1.75 miles to your walk.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

How To Get There: Take exit 243 off of I-5 and follow Wintel Road south around a bend and then keep your eye out for the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge sign. After the sign you’ll see various parking areas on either side of the road.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Oregon, is a family-friendly nature preserve full of wetlands, farm fields and riparian forests where a wide variety of birds, Canadian geese and other wildlife live.

17 Replies to “Strolling Through Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge”

  1. mykidsguide

    Your photos are amazing. This sounds like a good place to visit with the family this summer.

  2. Michele

    If I lived or was visiting anywhere near there I would definitely be going there to relax and take in some nature. I am glad to see that they erected raised wooden walks above the marsh area as that keeps them from being disturbed!

  3. klg1982

    I just got an e-mail from my best friend yesterday. She is moving there for her Fiance’s Job. I am going to forward this to her.

  4. John Kenneth Acibedo

    Such a nice place to visit so clean and green to refresh mind nice place.

  5. Heather

    That place looks quite place. I think if I were in that place my mind will get peace I love it and I wish I could visit there with my family one day.

  6. Fariha N.

    My kids would love to spend a day here. They love hiking and the outdoors and this seems like such a wonderful place.

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