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The ODFW Visitors' Guide


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Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Coyote Creek Nature Trail

Welcome to the Coyote Creek Nature Trail. This trail is provided and maintained by the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The trail winds its way through a stream side, or riparian area, which is bordered on one side by Coyote Creek, and on the other by various fields and marshes. This area provides excellent habitat for many wild animals, including deer, coyote, beavers, rabbits, birds, frogs, and snakes.

To fully enjoy the sites and sounds of the Coyote Creek nature Trail, be sure to walk slowly and quietly. Take a few minutes to have lunch, or just relax, on one of the several benches provided. The trail is divided by eight numbered posts, as indicated on the map. Below are a few things to watch for while traveling from one marker to the next.

Marker 1-2

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Coyote Creek Nature Trail
-ODFW-

Poisen Oak at EE Wilson

Poison Oak
- Photo by Kathy Munsel -

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
- Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

View from the Coyote Creek platform at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
-Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

Watch out for poison oak! It can grow as a vine, bush, or low ground cover. It can be identified by its shiny, dark green or red, leaves which always grow in groups of three.

Several stumps and downed trees show signs of beaver activity. Beaver are the largest rodents found in North America. They require a constant source of water. In small seasonal streams, such as Coyote Creek, where the water level varies and can get very low, they build dams to create ponds which provide them with food and shelter.

Marker 2-3

The benches in this area are excellent spots to sit and watch for a Great Blue Heron to wade by in the creek. The Great Blue Heron is a lean, gray bird, that stands about four feet tall. The Oregon Grape is the state flower of Oregon. Although the grape is edible, many wild berries are so similar in appearance it is necessary to study their leaves, stems and/or root systems to tell them apart. It is safest not to eat any of them. Remember, this year's flowers and berries are next year's new plants.

Marker 3

The marshes, ponds, and fields to the right of marker 3 are part of the 5,000 acres of land managed by the Fern Ridge Fish and Wildlife Department. A combination of intensive and passive techniques are used to promote all wildlife, with waterfowl being the primary target species. The land provides food and shelter for the numerous species of songbirds, ducks, and birds of prey, which migrate through, winter, and/or nest at Fern Ridge.

Marker 3-4

Have a seat on one of the benches in this area and listen to the wide variety of songbirds, birds of prey, and waterfowl living in Fern Ridge Wildlife Area.

Oak trees have irregularly lobed leaves, and produce acorns. Acorns are a great source of food for blue jays, squirrels, and many other animals. The round speckled balls you might find growing on oak leaves, or on the ground beneath the trees are called "galls." These galls are made by gall wasps, and house the wasps' larvae while they grow and mature.

Marker 4

This is a great place to look for animal tracks! The creek bank slopes gradually in this area providing an excellent spot for animals to drink. Their tracks can be easily seen in the clay soil.

Marker 4-5

Bats are the only flying mammals. They are very beneficial to humans in that a single bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes and other insects in one night! Contrary to popular belief, bats do not suck blood, and rarely transmit rabies.

Big Leaf Maple trees reproduce with seeds which have wings. These wings cause them to swirl, or "helicopter", away from the parent tree when they fall. This allows the new seed to grow and develop in it's own area, without having to compete with the parent tree for light, water, and nutrients.

Marker 5-6

Snags are dead trees which rot inside as fungus dissolves and consumes the wood.  Fungi are decomposers. They recycle the natural world by breaking down dead plants and animals so that their nutrients can be used over again. This decomposition softens the trees, enabling insects and woodpeckers to create cavities in them. These cavities provide excellent homes for many animals, such as squirrels, wild bees, wood ducks, bats, and owls.

Marker 6-7

Several of the trees in this area have small round growths, or burls, on their trunks. Trees grow these burls around the site of an infection to contain the infection and prevent it from spreading.

Along the trail there are several wood duck nesting boxes in the trees. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife numbered the boxes to easily locate the boxes to facilitate recording nesting success. Wood ducks are one of the few cavity-nesting ducks.

Coyote Creek and the adjacent ponds and riparian areas, are great habitats for many species of frogs, turtles, snakes, and salamanders.

Marshes 7-8

The shaggy, greyish-green growth on the bark and twigs of the trees is called lichen. Lichens are eaten by squirrels, rabbits, deer, elk, and many other animals. Lichens that fall from the trees are an especially important food source when it snows and other food plants are buried.

This area may have seasonal closures in effect to protect wintering waterfowl. Please check Fern Ridge Wildlife Area Regulations.

Back to Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

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