South Willapa Bay Trail

South Willapa Bay Trail


Once the south end of Willapa Bay, a premier portion of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, was relatively inaccessible to visitors due to the absence of public access points. To remedy this, on behalf of Pacific County, the Friends of Willapa NWR submitted a grant application to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to improve access to the Refuge.

In 2015, Pacific County was awarded a $30,998 grant to build a trailhead that would provide the first public access to the south end of Willapa Bay. The trailhead is located in Long Beach east of Sandridge Road at the end of 95th Street. Fifteen parking spots, a viewing area and kiosk were constructed at the trailhead in 2016 and now provide an access point for viewing nature, hiking and birding along the South Bay Trail.

The South Bay Trail winds tBoardwalk Sketchhrough wetlands, coastal prairies, forests, and salt marsh habitats to offer unparalleled views of Willapa Bay, one of the west coast’s most pristine water bodies and important migratory bird habitats.

At the end of the trail is an excellent location to view the results of the Bear River Estuary Restoration project completed over several years by Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. This restoration returned 500 acres of pasture back to estuary. While it will take time for the land to fully recover, native animals and plants can already be seen in the area.

In 2020, the overlook at the end of the trail was completed. Featuring a unique spiraling 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.

The Friends would like to thank the following for their contributions in making this new community destination a reality: 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. 

With your support, 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.

Get Involved and Support the South Bay Trail!

  • Join the Friends of Willapa NWR.

  • Make a financial contribution by donating today.

  • Make a donation in honor or in memory of someone.

  • Become a Trail Sponsor of a future trail amenity.

  • Purchase Friends of Willapa NWR merchandise.

  • Volunteer for special events or trail maintenance.

  • Consider the Friends of WNWR in your estate plans.

If you’d like to get involved, our contact information is at the bottom of this page. Help make South Bay Trail a gateway for tens of thousands of visitors for hiking, bird watching, photography, and environmental education!