Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in September 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Walking Distance: 4 miles | Participants: 8 | Elevation Gain/Loss: 200 feet
This was a meandering nature-viewing hike to the highest point of the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Our hike began with a short side trip to the Prairie Overlook on the south side of Bruce Road to enjoy the view, then we walked north along the Pigeon Butte Trail. We looked for band-tailed pigeons and songbirds. We did see one raptor. There were signs of a previous fire on the south side of the butte as much of the grasslands had been charred. We saw a large white oaks along the trail going up the butte. At the old quarry, several roosting turkey vultures observed us. At the top of the butte, we could easily see 40 miles to the south of Skinner Butte even though there was smoke from an area forest fire. On the return walk, we had lunch under a tree then Cheadle Barn then continued on the Cheadle Marsh Trail to observe a wetland. The area was very dry. We saw signs of elk, a lizard, a frog, several white-colored praying mantis, and a Great Blue Heron eating a frog.