Home to beaver, river otter, black-tailed deer, osprey, bald eagles and Western painted turtles, this 2,000-acre natural area offers accessible wildlife watching, a canoe launch and more.
Updated Nov. 14, 2012
Thank you for your support and patience during wildlife recovery efforts at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area. Metro diverted waterfowl from the lakes using hazing techniques to help protect healthy migrating birds from a disease outbreak.
Recovery efforts are complete and the lakes are now open to paddlers.
Contact the Metro Natural Areas Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At nearly 2,000 acres, Metro’s Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is the largest protected wetlands within an American city. This beautiful natural area is one of the region’s best-kept secrets, hiding in a part of Portland surrounded by port terminals, warehouses and other commercial developments. Most visitors to the natural area are surprised to find beaver, river otter, black-tailed deer, osprey, bald eagles and Western painted turtles living only minutes from downtown Portland.
Download the wildlife checklist
Recent improvements at the wetlands include a new canoe launch area and improved access for paddlers as well as restrooms, interpretive displays, a covered shelter, parking for 40 cars, a bus drop-off and public art.
Wind your way through the wetlands on the Interlakes Trail, a paved, accessible trail that includes two wildlife viewing platforms. Another great way to explore the natural area is by boat.
Another interesting feature of the natural area is the now-closed St. Johns Landfill, a former wetland that was filled and served as the region’s primary garbage disposal site from 1940 to 1991. Since then, Metro has been implementing environmental protection measures to safely reintegrate the 238-acre landfill site into its natural environs.
Learn more about the St. Johns Landfill
Since the new water control structure was installed in late 2003, Metro has turned back the clock more than 200 years for the natural area around Smith and Bybee lakes. The area is returning to the extensive network of sloughs, wetlands and forests that formerly existed at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. To better reflect the nature of the site, the natural area has been renamed Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area.
Visit Metro's online calendar for bird watching, turtle walks, volunteer work parties, paddle trips and other public nature activities at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area. You can also plan your own field trip with a Metro naturalist especially for your classroom, group or organization.
View calendar events at Smith and Bybee Wetlands
Learn more about Metro field trips
On Marine Drive between the Expo Center and Kelley Point Park. Take I-5 to exit 307. Go west on North Marine Drive for 2.2 miles. Turn left at the large brown and white sign.
A parking area and viewpoint are on the south side of Marine Drive, 2.5 miles west of Interstate 5. Use bike lanes on Marine Drive from the east or west. From North Portland, take Columbia Boulevard (which becomes North Portland Road) and travel north to Marine Drive; this intersection is just east of the lakes. For a more scenic ride from St. Johns, travel northwest on Lombard Avenue and come out west of the lakes on Marine Drive. Exercise caution on all of these roads. Bicycles are not allowed inside the natural area, but a bike rack is available.
Learn more about biking in the region
Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is free and open to the public every day from legal sunrise to legal sunset. Parking, restrooms, paths and the Interlakes Trail are wheelchair accessible. Do not leave valuables in your car while visiting the natural area.
To view MOV files, download free QuickTime.
Find out how Metro and its partners are working to ensure the health and well-being of the unique habitat at Smith and Bybee Wetlands. An updated management plan will guide stewardship of the natural area for the next 10 years.