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New Boardwalk at Nisqually

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Feb 11, 2011 03:02 PM |

The new four-mile Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail has officially opened in Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge offering visitors the opportunity to watch the tides change the landscape and see a vast array of birds and wildlife.

On February 1, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge held a dedication celebration for the new Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail. According to The Olympian, more than 200 people came out on a sunny day to get the first look at the completed one-mile long boardwalk - possibly the longest boardwalk on the West Coast.

The new $2.8 million boardwalk is the culmination of a three-year project to restore the estuary with natural tidal flow. The first step was removing the Brown Farm Dike in 2009, which closed a popular loop trail in the Refuge and restored 762 acres of the Nisqually Delta. The new boardwalk runs atop the tidal estuary and offers hikers an unprecedented window into the way the tide changes the landscape and provides excellent opportunities to spot wildlife and birds.

The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail starts at the visitor center and is accessed by walking one-half mile on both the Twin Barnes Loop trail and the new estuary dike trail. Then the boardwalk begins, and it truly is something to behold. It juts far out into the delta - running a full mile. When the tide is in, people will be walking above the water. When the tide is out, folks will be treated to the mudflats that are so popular with waterfowl.

Nisqually boardwalk

The trail features an observation tower, an enclosed viewing platform, several push-outs for those who want to linger with their binoculars and two covered viewing platforms. There are thoughtful touches like the areas with lower railings and mesh coverings to allow unobstructed views for kids and those in wheelchairs. The highlight is the Puget Sound Viewing Platform at the end of the boardwalk. It provides a 360 degree view of McAllister Creek, the Olympics, Mount Rainier and several islands in Puget Sound. Round-trip is four miles.

Trails at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge are open sunrise to sunset every day, and there is a $3 per car vehicle charge. Parts of this trail will have an annual seasonal closure from October to January for waterfowl hunting season. Do note that the last quarter mile of boardwalk trail will be closed from February 21-25 for final construction.

Now find those binoculars and head to this special place!