If you’re looking for an active rest day or an easy hike for a slow-day, Nisqually Nature Preserve (technically named Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge) is the place you want to be.
When Argo ripped out of his third, padlocked kennel, resulting in stitches and hundreds of dollars in vet visits (GOOD THING HE’S CUTE), we had a few hours to kill before picking him back up. About thirty minutes from home is a small Nisqually River Delta visible from the highway, accessible through the underpass. They don’t allow dogs so it made sense we would check it out.
There were several families and couples there looking for a leisurely walk through some surprisingly pretty nature trails. You drive in to the visitor center and there are several volunteers committed to teaching people about the protected estuary and refuge.
Something we learned (copied/paraphrased from their website):
The Nisqually River Delta, a biologically rich and diverse area at the southern end of Puget Sound, supports a variety of habitats. Here, the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus.
These nutrients support a web of sea life – the benefits of which extend throughout Puget Sound and beyond. While most major estuaries in the state have been filled, dredged, or developed, Nisqually River’s has been set aside for wildlife. In 1974, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the delta and its diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound.
..And it’s right next to the highway. Pretty cool, right? If you were looking for summer ideas for kiddos this could make for a great few hours.
This won’t expose you to any type of ‘wilderness’ you’d find on other hikes but it’s an extremely easy way to get into nature and learn about what’s around you;undisturbed. The boardwalks and well-maintained trails take you through creeks, streams, trees, moss and overhangs.
There are some old, white barns simply called the ‘Twin Barns’ next to the trail loop and you can walk around the observation area.
There is a long boardwalk that takes you out over the water and there are a few bird-watching shelters along the way. There were lots of birds, crabs, fish and small wildlife while we were out. We were trying to look over the trees for eagles but I don’t believe we saw any.
If nothing else, this is a perfect little walk to get outside and learn a little more about where we live. You also get the chance to support the volunteers and efforts of the refuge. If you have family visiting, this is great for all ages and capabilities. Check out their online platforms if you have any more questions.
Oh yeah, before I forget.
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