Flickr album link: Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge
A tour of Mt Adams simply would not be complete without experiencing the Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This preserve is located at the base of the 12,000 foot tall volcano in an area that was once covered by shallow lakes and vast wetlands. Pioneer settlers drained off the water long ago and the ancient wetlands are now dry grassy cow pastures, which definitely is a disappointment from an esthetic standpoint. Even so, there are nature trails through the pine forests surrounding the meadows that are well worth exploring and there are a few old historic sites to check out too.
Fortunately, all it takes is rain to turn the grassy pastures back into a marshy environment. Many species of wading birds and waterfowl can be seen feeding in the wetlands, especially during the migration seasons. Conboy Lake is famous for being a good place to observe sandhill cranes in the wide open spaces, which definitely is a captivating pastime. The surrounding deep woods harbor all sorts of wildlife and birds even during the dry seasons and trail maps are available at the visitor center. Be sure to pack a powerful lens for the ride, because if the birds are concentrated in the vast wetlands, they will be able to see you from a mile away. Both the visitor center and the old historic pioneer cabin offer a great educational experience for the entire family, so be sure to chalk Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge high on the list when planning a tour of Mt Adams!
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