Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge was established in 1965 to provide wintering habitat for the dusky subspecies of the Canada goose. Today it preserves both habitat for wildlife, and evidence of the people who once lived here. There are hiking trails and an auto tour through the refuge which are subject to seasonal closures.

getting there

Carty Unit

28908 NW Main Avenue, Ridgefield WA 98642

Take Exit 14 (Pioneer St/SR-501W) off of I-5 and turn west onto NW 269th/Pioneer St. At the first traffic circle, stay on NW 269th/Pioneer St, and at the second traffic circle follow Pioneer St. Turn right onto N Main St, drive 1 mile, and turn left into the refuge.

River S' Unit

1071 S Hilhurst Rd, Ridgefield WA 98642

Take Exit 14 off of I-5 (Pioneer St/SR-501W) and turn west onto NW 269th/Pioneer St. At the first traffic circle, stay on NW 269th/Pioneer St, and at the second traffic circle follow Pioneer St. Turn left onto  9th Ave and continue as it becomes  S Hillhurst St. Turn right on S Refuge Rd and drive into the refuge.

about the refuge

The refuge is 5300 acres and contains a mixture of wetlands, grasslands, riparian corridors, and forests. These habitats and a mild and rainy winter climate provide an ideal environment for many species including neotropical song birds, wintering waterfowl, and other local native species. The refuge has five sections, each with a unique habitat and wildlife. Some sections are open for the public with seasonal closures for wildlife.  In the winter migratory birds—ducks, geese and swans—are present and in spring through fall, smaller birds abound. Mammals are shy and fear humans, so seeing any  is a challenge and rare treat.

on the trail

Carty Unit

Hike the Oaks to Wetlands Trail that is open year-round during daylight hours. It has several internal loops offering hiking distances of 1-2 miles. The trail begins as a graveled and then paved walk passing the Plankhouse and a small lake. The trail then crosses uneven terrain as it travels though  oak woodlands, fir forests, and basalt outcroppings.

From spring trough fall, hike the Carty Lake Trail starting from the Main Ave entrance. It's a 2.2 mile out-and-back hike.

River S' Unit

In spring through fall, hike the Kiwa Trail from the Auto Tour Route past the observation blind. The trail is a mostly level grade and is constructed of compacted gravel and boardwalks. The trail is well suited for wheelchairs, wheeled walkers, and baby strollers.


  • There is a driving route available for wildlife viewing from fall through spring. Drivers are required to stay in their cars along the route for wildlife protection.
  • Please respect the seasonal closures for wildlife. Check with the land manager before heading to the refuge.
  • There are plans for a 5-mile loop trail system through the refuge, city and port, with wildlife and habitat views.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 5.0 mi
  • Land Manager: Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
  • Parking Permit Required: see Land Manager
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • see Land Manager
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