|Swimming in circles|
The refuge is divided into several areas, but the most accessible are the River “S” and Carty units, both near the small town of Ridgefield, Washington. To reach the River “S” unit, follow Interstate 5 north of Vancouver to exit 14. State route 501 leads west 2.5 miles to Ridgefield; turn left on 9th Avenue at the flashing school zone sign. It’s approximately one mile to the wildlife refuge sign on the right. A graveled, one-way road provides a scenic, four-mile loop through wetlands and forests. In winter, visitors are not permitted out of their vehicles except in a few areas, but there are numerous pull-offs and wide spots in the road for viewing wildlife. Between May and September, hikers can enjoy spotting songbirds, woodpeckers, and herons along the easy Kiwa Trail.
To reach the Carty unit, return to route 501 and turn left into downtown Ridgefield, a charming town and ideal place for a coffee warm-up. Follow Main Avenue a short distance north of town to another refuge sign on the left. This area is only accessible by foot and includes a short climb over an arched bridge across railroad tracks. On the other side, is the recently completed Cathlapotle plankhouse.