Having visited the Ankeny and William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuges on Tuesday (post) and Wednesday (post) respectively I visited the third refuge comprising the Willamette Valley Complex, Baskett Slough on Thursday. For the final in this trifecta I had the chance to hike with my Father so I picked him up just after 6am and off we went. Like the other two refuges in the complex I had visited Baskett Slough before, most recently in May of last year (post) during the initial COVID lock down when many places weren’t open and we were trying to stay close to home. We began our hike at the Baskett Butte Trailhead.
Mt. Jefferson from the trailhead.
The Rich Guadagno Memorial Loop Trail begins here and we followed it uphill to the start of the loop where we forked left continuing uphill to a second junction with the side trail to the Rich Guadagno Viewing Platform. We were just a couple of weeks earlier than Heather and my visit from last year but it made a big difference. The hill had been covered with wildflowers during that hike but there were just a few out now.
A few lupine and buttercups
Castilleja levisecta – Golden Paintbrush
A few little flowers starting to open up.
View from the deck.
We returned to the loop and continued into the woods on the side of Baskett Butte where we kept a streak of mine alive by spotting deer in this area.
There weren’t nearly as many flowers here as there had been in the woods at Finley NWR but a few fawn lilies and toothworts were blooming.
The rangers had been busy cleaning up after the ice storm based on some large piles of debris but it also appeared there was more work to do.
We turned left at a sign for the Moffiti/Morgan Loop Trail and headed downhill toward Moffiti Marsh.
Camas pretending to be part of a lupine plant.
White crowned sparrow
Pied billed grebe
We turned right along a path parallel to Smithfield Road following it to a small trailhead (where Heather and I started the 2020 hike). The fences across Smithfield Road were popular with the feathered community.
A robin, a western bluebird and swallows
A green winged teal and a cinnamon teal in a small marsh.
We took the path from the trailhead to Morgan Lake where there were a lot of ducks doing their best to stay as far away from us as possible.
This scrub jay wasn’t shy.
Neither was this serious looking spotted towhee
Norther shovelers heading to the opposite side of the lake.
A bufflehead and some lesser scaups
Canada goose flyover
After passing the lake we got a wild hair and instead of following the loop up around the north side of Baskett Butte we decided to stay on a fainter grassy track around the eastern side of the butte.
Old out building below Baskett Butte.
This seemed to be a good way to avoid the elevation gain of going up and over the saddle on Baskett Butte but along the way the grassy track disappeared into a field. There was another track heading uphill toward the butte but we were set on not climbing so we sallied forth.
Not only was this uphill but we didn’t know for sure where it might lead.
Along the field we went.
On the bright side our little adventure led us to the only blooming checkermallow we’d seen all morning.
At a row of vegetation if briefly appeared we might be turning back but a break in the brush provided us a way through (it appeared to be a popular route with the resident deer and elk.
Looking uphill along the row of brush.
On the other side of the brush we found a huge flock of geese (or several smaller flocks that had merged)
An extremely small portion of the geese.
We veered right away from the geese not wanting to be the cause of what we could only imagine would have been quite a commotion and cut across another field directly to the trailhead which was now visible.
Baskett Butte from the field.
Our route may have actually been a little shorter than if we had stayed on the trail as my GPS showed 4.8 miles while the route as described by Sullivan is 4.9 miles. It also saved a little bit of elevation gain and allowed us to see a little part of the refuge that we hadn’t before. It would have been pretty ugly though if it had rained recently though as I can only imagine those fields would be muddy messes. While not quite as exciting as the other two refuges Baskett Slough has always managed to deliver wildlife sightings and is definitely worth a visit. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge