Update for paddlers
As of June 13, 2022 Bybee Lake was approximately 16.4 feet. Paddling is usually best when the water level is at least 10 feet. Water in the wetlands will rise and fall with levels in the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Paddling conditions will vary with river levels, and visitors are encourages to check the NOAA gauge at Vancouver. Although the water control structure is currently open, paddlers should avoid traveling through the structure and should instead portage around for safety.
Take the Interlakes Trail or go by boat to explore one of America’s largest urban wetlands. Either way, you might find beavers, river otters, black-tailed deer, osprey, bald eagles and Western painted turtles. You’ll also find a water control structure that is restoring this network of sloughs, wetlands and forests.
See and do
- Walk the Interlakes Trail.
- From mid-April through late June, see the lakes up-close by paddling a kayak or canoe.
- Bring binoculars to look for the many birds that live here or pass through the area.
- For additional information about visitor amenities, including photos and videos, please read the Access Trails review of Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Access Trails is a project by Access Recreation to provide information about parks facilities to visitors of varying physical abilities.
Know when you go
Metro and its partners will be working to control the nutria population in the channel that connects Smith and Bybee lakes. This work will happen over fall and winter, between sunset and sunrise. Signage will be posted to alert visitors to avoid areas where the work is taking place. Invasive nutria are harming the natural area by feasting on native plants and damaging banks, which reduce water flow. Because nutria can breed three times a year, their population grows fast – competing with native wildlife for habitat and resources. Thanks for your cooperation.
- Open from sunrise to sunset.
- Parking, restrooms, paths and the Interlakes Trail are wheelchair accessible.
- Occasional low water levels may occur in the winter and spring due to water management and upstream dam operations, which may affect paddling.
- Invasive species and native mat-forming species like Pacific mosquito fern can impact water access. Please be prepared to clean off boats after paddling to remove invasive plant material including Water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) and Parrotfeather milfoil (Myriophyllum aquaticum).
- Low water levels and algae blooms may be present in the summer and fall.
- Typically, dogs and other pets are not allowed at Metro parks and natural areas to protect sensitive habitats. Metro is making an exception by allowing pets on the Marine Drive Trail at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area because it is a designated regional trail. Pets must be on-leash at all times, and are not allowed anywhere else at Smith and Bybee.
- Hunting is not allowed.
- Smoking and vaping are not allowed.
- Drones, model planes, model boats and other remote-controlled vehicles are not allowed.
- Geocaching is allowed with guidelines.
- During inclement weather, please check oregonmetro.gov/parks for information about any closures.
If you go by bicycle, use bike lanes on Marine Drive from the east or west. Bicycles are not allowed inside the natural area, but a bike rack is available.