The Long Beach Peninsula is an amazing place for birders with plenty of viewing opportunities year round. The fall migratory path brings over 200 species of birds, making October a prime month for birding. Head to our trails to fully appreciate the diverse habitats that attract our feathered friends. Here are 5 hikes to take for a great bird watching experience.
1. McKenzie Head Trail
Where: Cape Disappointment State Park (Discover Pass required)
Length: A steep 1/2 mile
Highlights: This trail will give you the chance to see a large variety of birds and is particularly great for winter birding. Not only will you enjoy the panoramic view, but you’ll find the history of this place intriguing as well. An old bunker from WWII sits at the top and is open to the public. This fern covered echo of the past is left over from what once was Fort Canby.
2. Black Lake Trail
Where: Just north of Ilwaco on Highway 101
Length: 0.6 miles
Highlights: This is an easy fern-lined path through the forest along the shore of Black Lake. Look for herons, hawks, and common mergansers. In the winter, elegant trumpeter swans visit the lake.
3. Martha Jordan Birding Trail
Where: Leadbetter Point State Park (Discover Pass required) – After you enter the park, park at the first gravel turnout to the left to find the trail head.
Length: 1.1 miles
Highlights: Be on the lookout for songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl. Over 100 species of birds have been recorded here. Though less travelled, this trail will take you to Hines Marsh where you can view a variety of other wildlife including elk, deer, and black bears. This is another place to find trumpeter swans in the winter.
4. Dune Forest Trail
Where: Leadbetter Point State Park (Discover Pass required)
Length: 2.8 miles
Highlights: Spot shorebirds, waterfowl, eagles, falcons, herons, and more. Snowy owls occasionally visit in the winter. This trail floods during high tide so plan accordingly. This is a beautiful hike through forests, dunes, and the beach along Willapa Bay. You will also pass by a few fascinating artifacts from the past.
5. Long Beach Boardwalk
This one isn’t exactly a trail, but our boardwalk has character! It’s easily accessible for all.
Where: Sid Snyder Avenue to Bolstad Avenue
Length: About 1/2 mile
Highlights: This is an easy, fun walk to enjoy shorebirds, gulls, and eagles. The boardwalk snakes along the dunes with great views of the beach. There are information panels, picnic tables, and observation decks along the way. To get the best birding experience, go an hour or two before high tide.
What to Bring
- Bird Guide – Stop by Time Enough Books in Ilwaco if you forgot yours!
- We have a handy guide called “Common Birds of the Long Beach Peninsula” at the Visitors Bureau for $11.95. We only have a few left!
Willapa National Wildlife Refuge website lists great places for wildlife viewing.
New to birding?
If you’re new to birding, check out these tips from local experts on getting great bird and wildlife photos.