South Bay Trails and New Overlook

Willapa Bay is one of the west coast’s most pristine water bodies and important migratory bird habitats. The south end of the bay offers a beautiful mix of wetlands, coastal prairies, forests, and salt marsh habitats. A new trailhead was added in 2016, and in 2020 the South Bay Trail and overlook were completed, offering visitors a walk through many of these environments.

At the east end of 95th Street off Sandridge Road, this trailhead accesses a premier portion of the Refuge, including the overlook, Tarlatt Slough, and the recently upgraded Parker Slough Trail. Funding provided by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board supported trailhead construction that now provides an access point for viewing nature, hiking, and birding.

The overlook at the end of the South Bay Trail features a unique spiralling design, ceramic shorebird art, and a host of native plants. A colorful interpretive sign at the entrance helps visitors learn more about estuarine habitat and wildlife. This is also an excellent location to view the results of the Bear River Estuary Restoration project completed over several years by the Refuge. This restoration returned 500 acres of pasture back to estuary. Already, native animals and plants have returned to this area.

The Friends thank the following for their contributions to this important project: : Templin Foundation; National Fish & Wildlife Foundation; Commission for Environmental Cooperation; Brothers Concrete, Inc.; Renee O’Connor (Willapa Bay Tile); Brian Bainnson (Quatrefoil, Inc.); Elise Wahl (Timberdoodle); volunteers Kathleen Sayce and Todd Wiegardt; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Birds; Willapa National Wildlife Refuge; and all of you who support the Friends and the Refuge. 

South Willapa Bay Trails and New Overlook project


Considerations for the next phase of improvements for South Bay Trail will consist of:

  • Improving the mile long trail to make it accessible for people of all ages and abilities.  
  • Construction of a boardwalk along Tarlatt Slough 
  • Ultimately this trail will connect to the Natural Resource Center and across the Long Beach Peninsula to the Discovery Trail along the Pacific Ocean to form the Beach to Bay Trail.
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