Riverview Wildlife Refuge –Quiet bird sanctuary on the Snohomish River

The trail follows the Snohomish River passing beneath the SR 9 bridge.

The trail follows the Snohomish River passing beneath the SR 9 bridge.

Quick Facts

Location: City of Snohomish

Land Agency: Snohomish Department of Parks and Volunteer Programs

Roundtrip: 2.2 miles

Elevation gain: minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Contact: City of Snohomish and Pilchuck Audubon Society

Notes: Dogs must be on leash (and may not be allowed in the near future).
Access:  From Everett head east on US 2 to SR 9. Then follow SR 9 south exiting onto 2nd Street. Turn left and head east 0.1 mile bearing right onto 1st Street. After another 0.1 mile, park on right aside a paved trail.

Good to know: kid-friendly, bird watching, snow-free winter hiking



Big cottonwoods grow along the Snohomish River.

The small city of Snohomish sits on the banks of the Snohomish River surrounded by a lush floodplain. Years ago the city developed a short paved path along the river near its historic downtown core. It’s a beautiful walk and has become quite popular with residents and visitors alike. But the trail is short and the city is surrounded by miles of undeveloped riverfront prompting community visionaries to look into expanding the trail system. And a few years ago the expansion began with the opening of the Riverview Wildlife Refuge.

Much of the refuge sits to the west of the city’s water treatment plant occupying lands formerly used as treatment lagoons. Today this area is a grassy marsh surrounded by towering cottonwoods. Bird life and small mammals are abundant in the refuge. The area is accessed by a trail from 1st street to a path along a river dike. The refuge is being jointly managed by the city and the Pilchuck Audubon Society. They have recently released a master plan for the property calling for new trails and improvements. But there is no need to wait for the future as the area currently offers nice walking opportunities.

Starting from the parking area follow the paved path west toward a city waterworks building adorned with metal swimming salmon. Then head left on a gravel path passing by a small wetland sporting a cottonwood grove. The way then soon comes to the riverbank. Now continue west passing under the 1959-built SR 9 bridge. At .4 mile come to the water treatment lagoons. Stop and peer through fencing to the pools where a wide array of waterfowl can usually be sighted.


Late afternoon sunlight filtered by puffy clouds.

Then continue walking along the dike soon reaching the refuge. Stay on the elevated walkway and do not venture into the marsh as bio solids have accumulated over the years into the marsh. Continue walking along the marshy wetland watching for birds and small critters. Some large cottonwoods provide shade along the way. There is some good viewing too of the river and the farms and hills beyond. Cross over an old stone spillway and come to a junction at .9 mile. You can make a small loop here or continue on a dike another .2 mile east coming to a gate at the water treatment plant. This section of trail not only offers more views of the marsh, but also of the wildlife-rich Cemetery Creek wetlands to the north. Return the way you came and do come back in the future as the area is improved. Plans for the refuge not only include new trails and bridges, but also elevated mounds that will offer excellent birdwatching vantages.

For information on lodging and other attractions near Riverview Wildlife Sanctuary visit www.snohomish.org


For more information on other snow free winter and spring hikes nearby, consult my Winter Hikes of Western Washington deck. 

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