Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in October 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Hiking Distance: 10 miles | Participants: 9 | Elevation Gain/Loss: 200 feet
Our hike made a 10-mile loop through the William L Finely National Wildlife Refuge, home to the largest remaining tract of native Willamette Valley wet prairie. Our autumn exploration was held just at the end of the refuge’s April-October open season. Our goal was to look for wildlife and observe changes on the land during this time of seasonal change. The morning began on the cool side but quickly warmed to a comfortable temperature. The fields, which were barren several weeks ago, were now populated with carpets of green. On one field evidence of a wallow where large animals had rolled which we speculated to be from Roosevelt Elk that live in the area. Our group saw Oregon white oak, Oregon ash, and big lead maple. We also enjoyed seeing numerous ducks, and while on Bruce Road and the Cheadle Marsh Trail, we witnessed several hundred geese flying overhead.