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Trip Report

Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge — Saturday, May. 12, 2018

South Cascades

Trip Report By



Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition


Road suitable for all vehicles


No bugs


Snow free

We stopped at Conboy Lake expecting it to be a short visit on the way to heading back up to Seattle, but found much more than we thought! The website and refuge pamphlets all list the trail as 2 miles - we ran the GPS and found it closer to 5 round trip... perhaps they only were counting one direction? It's nearly completely flat and well cared for, though the area near the ditch might be a bit muddy. 

The lollipop-ish loop starts out walking next to the drainage ditches along the edges of the wetland. It's a good place to spot birds and I suppose if you are lucky - we weren't :( - some of the rare Oregon spotted frogs that thrive there.    After that it skirts the edge of a small meadow before going into a ponderosa pine forest. At the far end of the loop there's a viewing platform that looks out toward the remaining portion of the lake (there was an attempt to drain it a long time ago that simply resulted in a huge wetland). We could see and hear the resident cranes, but they were a pretty long way off. A little further along there's a short side trail that heads down to a meadow area marked Willard Spring (no spring seemed evident... ). The way back is again through the pine forest. If you want to cut the trip a little shorter, head over to the road - there's a small side trail that meets it close to the entrance to the parking area. Otherwise stay left and go back through the meadow and along the ditch again. 

And one of the most amazing things... at 9:30 on a Saturday this place was deserted.. there was a single car in the lot when we arrived, but we never saw or heard the occupants and it was gone when we came back.