With winter comes the return of the eagle to the Stillaguamish River. To celebrate these special winter residents, Arlington hosts an annual Eagle Festival. The eagles return to feed on salmon that have come to spawn in the clean river gravel. The eagle also prey on the snow geese that are feeding in the agricultural fields in the floodplain.
This year's eagle festival includes virutal activities, on-your-own outings to spot the eagles (see below), eagle bingo and more.
To entice you to participate, the Stillaguamish Tribe is offering prize drawings for Eagle Festival participants. Complete the eagle bingo card by participating in the festival activities, and enter to win outdoor adventure gear.
Check out virtual festival activities at the festival website.
Where to see eagles:
Arlington Stormwater Wetland Park
This stormwater wetland was designed to filter pollutants from the water flowing through its cells. City stormwater previously flowed directly into the Stillaguamish River. Now this water flows through the wetland where native plants and natural processes filter it. Walk the meandering trails around the wetland and read the interpretive signage or follow the Eagle Trail along the dike near the Stillaguamish River.
Directions: use parking lot at Haller Park 1100 West Ave., walk west under SR 9 bridge to Stormwater Park.
Portage Creek Wildlife Area
This 150 acre wildlife reserve is home to a variety of wetland plants and animals. Stroll along the stream and enjoy the open meadow paths while catching glimpses of herons, raptors and species of waterfowl.
Location: 20802 59th Avenue NE Arlington
Eagle and Salmon Viewing at Squire Creek Park
Squire Creek County Park is located approximately 24 miles east of Arlington towards the town of Darrington. If conditions are right, visitors can view spawning chum salmon in Squire Creek and eagles.
Access to the Sauk River is just five minutes away at Backman Park (25333 Clear Creek Road)
Location: Squire Creek Park, 41415 SR 530, Arlington
Forston Mill Ponds Park
Once the site of a bustling mill and community of over 300 residents, all that remains now of Fortson are some concrete walls and two pretty mill ponds. A fun place to explore. This site is also a trailhead for the Whitehorse Trail.
Read the history here: www.discoverdarrington.com/history-2/historical-places/fortson-mill/
Location: SR 530 to Fortson Mill RD, near Milepost 42 www.snohomishcountywa.gov/Facilities/Facility
Nature Conservancy Port Susan Preserve
One of the finest estuarine habitats in Puget Sound.
An estuary forms where fresh water meets saltwater and provides habitat for many species of birds, fish, and other wildlife. Self-guided tours available with reservations only at https://www.arlingtonwa.gov/695/Port-Susan-Bay-Preserve-Reservations
Location: Port Susan Bay Nature Conservancy, Boe Road, Stanwood
Stillaguamish Valley Museum Watershed Model
An outdoor shelter houses a hand-carved cedar relief map of the Stillaguamish River watershed as it was in 1910, when Arlington was the world’s capital for cedar-shake mills. The map includes locations of pioneer communities, mines, logging operations, Stillaguamish tribal encampments, and the sites of old roads, schools and cemeteries.
Location: 20722 67th Ave. NE Arlington
Leque Island—Stanwood Levee Trail
Walk along an accessible trail following the Stillaguamish River and restored tidal marsh on Leque Island. Walk is .7 mile in length with view and birds. Managed by WA Department of Fish and Wildlife. Discover Pass is required on WDFW lands -- unless you already have a Vehicle Access Pass issued with the purchase of an eligible hunting or fishing license. Location: Eide Road off of SR 532, follow short road to parking area. Wildlife Areas | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center Viewing Sites
Head north on State Route 530 to Skagit County for a day of exploration, eagle sightings and a beautiful road trip. Registration is required for guided walks.
Location: Howard Miller Steelhead Park,
52809 Rockport Park Rd, Rockport
For more information and other areas in Skagit County to view eagles, go to: www.skagiteagle.org