A Spring Visit to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

The Nisqually River

On our way out to the coast last weekend, we planned a quick excursion to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.  Since it’s restoration in 2009, Slaed has wanted to visit, and this trip provided the perfect opportunity for us to check it out.

The refuge, where the Nisqually River meets the Puget Sound,  is in Olympia, WA; about an hour’s drive from Seattle.  The meeting of the Nisqually River and the Puget Sound, make the area very diverse with fresh and salt water habitats.   As we pulled up and entered the park, we were bombarded with signs prohibiting dogs.  No dogs allowed, and they mean it! Poor Norm had to stay in the car.  We made our way to the visitors center and decided that all we had time for was the quick “Twin Barns Loop Trail”.  This didn’t give us much to explore, but we’d get to a taste, and know exactly what to do on our next visit.

As we walked along the boardwalk of the loop trail, I asked Slaed to guess the first animal we would see or encounter.  He went with a safe guess: “a bird”. He was exactly right! The first animals viewed were a couple of geese.  The wildlife spotting did not stop there.  Along the way, we saw several robin, more geese, squirrels, a black bird, and a deer.

With spring in full swing, there was also plenty of flora to view.  We learned that Skunk Cabbage is out in full force as well as these beautiful pink blooms.  I will need to do some research to find out their actual name!

About halfway around the trail, we came upon the loop’s namesake.

Twin Barns

There were several overlooks providing wide spaces to observe.  They often were accompanied with interpretive signs and even mounted scopes.  Baby B took full advantage.

Taking a closer look.

It turns out, the 1-mile loop trail was just the right hike for us.  We were able to enjoy the beauty of the refuge with a happy baby, and it was a great way to stretch our legs before the remainder of our journey.  That’s not to say, we don’t want to see more next time.  For our next Nisqually adventure, I’d like to hike the Nisqually Estuary Trail and Boardwalk; a 4 mile round trip route.

Next stop, Astoria, Oregon!

Info to Know:

  • From I-5 take exit 114.  There will be clearly marked signs guiding you to the refuge.
  • Open daily from sunrise to sunset with the Visitor Center open Wednesday – Sunday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • There is an entrance fee of $3.00 per four adults.  Children 16 & under are free
  • Hungry? Stop at Norma’s for a tasty hamburger.  You can see it from the freeway.  Staff is friendly, loves kids and babies, and even let us take a refill of our drinks to go!

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