Explore the Skagit Wildlife Area

Washington WDFW Headquarters

Added by Gemina Garland-Lewis

Great spot to see local wildlife in a variety of wetland environments, particularly during the winter migrations of snow geese and trumpeter and tundra swans. Stunning views of Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak included.

The Skagit Wildlife Area encompasses over 16,700 acres of wildlife habitat just south of Mt. Vernon, WA. Comprised of 16 different units, there's a lot to explore! This adventure focuses on the trail network starting at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife headquarters.

From the parking lot by the information center, take a right down the path heading southwest along the water. This path is well maintained and keeps an even grade throughout your trip. Soon you'll reach a junction at a dike where you can either turn right or keep straight ahead - pick either direction and just come back to explore the other one when you're done. If you keep straight here, you'll continue heading southwest until the path becomes less-trodden and more narrow, eventually meeting its end at the shores of Skagit Bay. There are great views of the surrounding islands and bird calls fill the air all around.

Coming back the way you came, you may be surprised to find that Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak were right behind you the whole time on your hike out. There are some beautiful spots where they are reflected in the estuary waters. When you come across the dike again, take a left (due west) if you haven't explored down that way. This section of the trail follows the border with nearby agricultural land, so please respect the private property boundaries you see posted. This section ends with a great view of the bay and, on a clear day, the Olympics across the way.

Throughout your adventure, keep an eye out for hawks, eagles, blue herons, swans, geese, and shorebirds, among others, especially during winter migrations. Keep in mind that October through January is hunting season. It is best not to go during that time but if you do make sure you wear bright orange during your hike.

Stop by the North Sound Brewing Co. in Mt. Vernon for some local brew on your return home!

Pack List

  • Discover Pass
  • Camera
  • Telephoto lens
  • Binoculars
  • Bird identification guide
  • Water and snacks
  • Rain gear/extra layer
  • Waterproof shoes, some areas muddy
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

0 Feet



Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby

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How to Get There

Great place for bird watching

This is an easily accessible area with a great payoff. There are huge amounts of snow geese and trumpeter and tundra swans in the winter migration and it's an awesome sound when they all fly overhead at once. Great spot for getting kids into wildlife and the outdoors or when you need a low key adventure. Pro-tip: Early morning and late afternoon/early evening will get you the best light and wildlife sightings. Park closes its gates during the dark.

8 months ago

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