I had to go to Spokane for a follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, and it happened to be a nice day, so I suggested that while we were up there, we should go to the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and spend some time outdoors. I’ve known the refuge was there and have always wanted to check it out, but I’ve always put it off. Since it has some handicap accessible trails, this was a good time to check it out.
Wildlife refuges are different than your typical national forest or national park lands. Their primary goal is to protect habitat for wildlife. Recreation comes second, which explains why most of the refuge is closed to visitors. Turnbull has some hiking trails, but not a large and extensive network of trails. These are good for gentle walks where hunting and wildlife viewing are the main objectives. The refuge itself is on a fairly flat landscape with an open savannah-like forest. It’s dotted with lakes and marshlands which bring in all kinds of birds. On this mid-march day, we saw lots of Ring-necked duck and American Wigeon, but not nearly the array of waterfowl down in Lewiston. I suppose we were a few weeks early since one of the lakes with a bird blind still had a significant chunk of ice over it. I also wonder if we would see more early in the morning. Instead, we hit the last few hours where the waterfowl were settling in for the evening and the songbirds were coming out for their last feeding of the day.
The refuge has a 5-mile auto loop with several small hiking loops along the way. Some of these are paved for disabled visitors such as myself, though I look forward to coming back when I can walk the other trails too. The refuge is a really nice birding paradise, and is also a good place to find moose and elk.
For more invormation, visit the official refuge page.