How new is New River? More than a century, according to local lore. The flood of 1890, they say, created a new northbound channel for Floras Lake. Today New River runs about nine miles north from Floras Lake, parallel to and just inland from the Pacific, before it turns to meet the ocean. Wild chinook salmon run up the river, and as many as 40,000 Aleutian Canada geese use the river every spring to rest and forage before heading out over the ocean toward nesting sites on the Aleutian Islands, stopping again in November on their southward migration.
Wildlife protection is the first priority here; at this writing, nearly 6000 acres of adjacent land here are being considered for designation as a national wildlife refuge through conservation easements. Consequently, the trail system veers hikers away from critical goose habitat, for example, and the last 0.5 mile of road as well as the dunes across the river are closed March 15 to September 15 to minimize disturbance to nesting snowy plovers. Instead, trails lead through dense coastal forest of pine and madrone, salal, manzanita, rhododendron, and chinquapin, into hidden meadows, past ocean vistas, and to a quiet lake.
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