4.1 miles, 1-3 hours
The Nisqually River estuary is one of the largest migrating bird stop over sites on Puget Sound. Three thousand acres of salt and freshwater marshes, grasslands, riparian, and mixed forest habitats provide resting and nesting areas for migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and wading birds. It is also the site of the largest tidal marsh restoration project in the Pacific Northwest.
Enjoy the two mile walk from the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge visitor center to the end of a new mile long boardwalk over the tideflats. Several covered viewing platforms along the way have interpretive signs and provide excellent points for birding. You'll see a variety of shorebirds, ducks, and raptors. When the tide is in you might even see some marine mammals. Don't miss views of Mt Rainier above the hills to the east.
Daily fee is $3.00 per four adults. An Interagency Annual Pass (old Golden Eagle), Senior Pass (old Golden Age), or Access Passport, Federal Duck Stamp, or an Annual Refuge Pass will admit the pass holder and 3 additional adults (over age 16). Children under 16 enter free.
Start at the informative visitor center.
This is a flat, easy walk - all only a few feet above sea level. The first part of the trail on old boardwalk (sometimes slippery) and graveled trail skirts freshwater ponds. The new boardwalk is wide and has good traction.
Pets, bikes, and jogging are prohibited on the trails and boardwalk.
The new portion of the boardwalk over the tideflats is very exposed to the weather, so dress for cooler, windier weather than you might expect.
Take a look at the Refuge website for much more information.