A short trip into the heart of Cache marshlands. Although it makes a good bike trip, it is suggested that peddlers return via the Mendon Road instead of the Valley View Highway due to traffic.
The starting point is Willow Park, at 6th South and 5th West in Logan (see The Mendon Loop map) (0.0). Stretch your legs with a walk along the canal behind the zoo to look for roosting raptors, woodpeckers and flocking songbirds in winter. Kingfishers, and snipe might be found near the canal.
Drive north along the west side of the park on 5th West, past the National Guard Armory. Turn left on 5th South, take another left two blocks later onto Park Ave., then a right onto 6th South which turns into Mendon Road (0.65). Drive west through farmlands. If snow melt is present, you will want to pull over often to look at shorebirds, ducks and waders in the fields. Marsh hawks (Northern Harriers) and other raptors (Red-tailed Hawks in summer months, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks in winter) will be seen here. Scan the stubble fields for Long-billed Curlews in spring.
At (4.9) you will see Spring Creek Ranch on the right (north) side of the road; a white cement gateway marks the entrance. Pull over on the shoulder after passing this gate (5.1). Scan all ponds and fields for seasonally abundant ducks, large shorebirds, White-faced Ibis, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night Herons, White Pelican and grebes. Note the large heron rookeries in stands of dead trees just west of the ranch house, about 1/4 mile due north of you. If you are lucky, in May you may see many behavioral courtship displays of the great blue heron in the rookeries. Tree Sparrows frequent roadside shrubs here in the winter.
Drive on over the bridge and park a couple of hundred yards beyond it (5.6). A noisy colony of Yellow-headed Blackbirds and long-billed Marsh Wrens will be found just west of you. Scan the fields on both sides of the road for Sandhill Cranes in the spring and summer. Their croaking call may alert you to their presence. Look closely for the small group of Double-crested Cormorants in this area.
Drive on into Mendon (6.8), take a right onto 4th North, then after 2 blocks turn right at the stop sign onto the highway. Watch for shrikes and kestrels on wires and poles.
Continue to the junction with Valley View Highway (highway 30) at (9.5). Take a right turn, heading back toward Logan. Be extremely careful all along the Valley View Highway when attempting to pull over onto the too-thin shoulder of the road. Traffic here is heavy, fast and unsympathetic. Near open water (10.9) look for Canada Geese, ducks, pelicans and wading herons.
Pull over into the boat landing parking lot at (11.0) on the north (left) side of the road, at the east end of a bridge. This stop will give you a good look around and a chance to listen in spring and early summer for both Sora and Virginia Rail. Listen, too, for the Bittern's thunder pumping sound.
At (13.0), the Benson turnoff, look for Bobolinks in the tall grass in June.
Stop at the Logan fish hatchery (15.2) by pulling over on the right shoulder of the road. Look for shorebirds on the mudflats and surrounding the shallow pools. Black-bellied Plovers have been seen here in the fall, and it is a good place for dowitchers in the summer.
Turn right on 10th West (15.7); drive to 6th South where you will take a left, and retrace your route to Willow Park (17.7).