Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Today the kids and I drove to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge to do some more hiking. I wanted to choose something that would be an easy hike since it’s just the three of us, and they’re still working on building up their little leg muscles and endurance.

Apparently there are two different areas to the Refuge, and we visited the “River S’ Unit” and auto tour route. It was fairly simple to find, and not too terribly far from the freeway actually.

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You have to drive over a slightly creepy bridge on the way to the refuge. Of course I kept thinking I would drive off the boards and end up stuck or something ridiculous. Right after this bridge, you arrive at the entrance to the refuge. There are permanent style porta-potty bathrooms there, and a place where you have to pay a $3 cash entrance fee.

IMG_20150521_112716403_HDRToday was a bit overcast and muggy, but it was really quite perfect! Along the scenic drive, we saw a lot of artists with their easels set up painting the landscape. There were also some serious bird watchers with gigantic telescopes.

The hiking trail is about halfway through the scenic drive. You will see a little bathroom building on the left side of the road, and just a bit past that, there is a small parking area on the right with a giant sign. It’s hard to miss. The route is about 1.5 miles long and basically has no elevation gain.

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The entire trail was well-kept and gravel. Great surface for beginning hikers or perhaps even pushing a jogging stroller!

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There are a couple of bridges like these that add a little fun to the hike. The kids were really hoping to see turtles in the water because there was a sign that said to be quiet for the sleeping turtles. They were a little disappointed to not find any.

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This is the reason it takes us a long time hiking. I try to find a good balance between allowing them to explore and not taking hours to finish a short hike. Jenna thought it would be a great idea to bring Connor’s magnifying glass so they could inspect bugs and bushes on the hike. I do love their curious minds!

PicMonkey Collage

I didn’t plan the timing of our day very well and didn’t bring a lunch with us. Thankfully, I always pack snacks in my bag, so we had granola bars at the beginning of the hike, then stopped halfway through for a “lunch” of dried cranberries and cheese and crackers.

The things I ALWAYS pack on short hikes are: water, snacks, diapers, wipes, and a knife.

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Unfortunately, using my cell phone as my camera has some disadvantages, and you can’t see the woodpecker the kids were looking at in this picture. One of the reasons I chose this hike, is the kids love finding wildlife. We saw a bunny in the road while driving, a couple nutria swimming in the water, a beehive in a tree, and this woodpecker making a racket. Sometimes we would stop on the trail and be quiet to enjoy the sounds of the birds. We were able to see a lot of different varieties (even with noisy kids!) and it was so peaceful along the trail!

IMG_20150521_123348416Jenna wanted to take a picture of Connor and I on the trail. My sweet little hiker asked to be carried for a little bit, but he walked almost the entire way himself.

IMG_20150521_123604328This little pumpkin did an awesome job hiking. Even though she wants to take a break about every five feet!

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I’m still getting used to using the My Tracks app on my phone, so I paused it during lunch and forgot to restart it for about .2 miles of walking. So, not counting our little lunch break and my snafu, we had a total hiking time of 1 hour 5 minutes, with an average speed of 1.23 mph. Our fastest speed of 3.1 mph was achieved when the kids spotted a bird on the trail and chased it for a while!

Overall, it was a great hike! The kids really loved it and I’m sure we’ll go back again.

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