There’s quite an outdoor show for those in the know at a place where you set your own pace for a walk on the wild side. This week, we explore a natural area and wildlife refuge that’s as grass roots as it gets – stroll paths marked with amazing wildlife moments at a time of year brimming with wild critters….Smith-Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area.

Framed by industrial parks and development on all sides, it is 2,000 acres of cottonwood forest and wetlands; the largest urban lake and marsh in the country. While human activity occurs all around, all the time, along an easy paved trail, the city hubbub seemed a million miles away.

Top of his local list for newcomers: Crystal Springs Park in SE Portland.

“It is the best beginner’s bird watching place in Portland,” exclaimed Davis. “I’ve been there on a bird walk in February – and we saw 13 different species of waterfowl without binoculars. There may not be a lot there, but the diversity is just spectacular.”

Part of the wonder of Smith-Bybee Wildlife Area is that it’s not on the way to anywhere; you must go there to explore it for yourself on a journey of discovery.

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

In this Grant’s Getaway

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Jacqui Parker says…

    Thanks for featuring Smith and Bybee Lakes as well as James Davis from Metro. Both are jewels in our community!

    Written on January 26th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  2. Friday links for the week | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas says…

    [...] Travel Oregon Blog: Grant’s Getaways: Smith-Bybee Lakes: [...]

    Written on January 28th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
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