Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Walk in the Nisqually Delta

After driving by the signs for the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, near Olympia, hundreds of times, I decided to make a special stop last Sunday. Join me for a gorgeous, peaceful walk through what is one of the last accessible deltas in the Puget Sound!

The Nisqually River delta is Nationally protected, and is one of the most biologically rich, diverse areas located at the Southern Tip of Puget Sound.  Together with Red Salmon and McAllister creeks, the Nisqually River, mixes with salt water forming one of the largest remaining estuaries in Washington State.  It was set aside for wildlife in 1974, and has become an increasingly important place for their protection, especially for migratory birds. When walking on the trails and boardwalks throughout the delta, there are so many birds to see and especially to hear!  Don't worry, there are signs indicating the different species of birds and all of their important facts.  Next time I will know to bring a set of binoculars.

Located  between Tacoma,Washington and just minutes from Olympia, the Nisqually Refuge is easy to find just off exit 114 on I-5.  Follow the signs once you are off of the freeway and drive right into the parking lot surrounding the visitor center. Last weekend, after I drove off the freeway, the drive in was decorated with these hand-painted salmon -  must be that time of year when the salmon are swimming upstream and returning to the rivers.

Thought these painted salmon by local grade school students were really great - love the creativity.  I would guess that there was over 200 of them stuck in the ground leading the way into the Nisqually Delta trails.

The entrance fee is a mere $3.00 per family for the day. Trails are open daily during daylight hours, and the visitor center is open from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday.  I highly encourage you to stop in the visitor center and learn about all of the diverse wildlife that lives in the delta. If you are interested in the ongoing educational programs and special events, make sure to leave your contact information with the volunteers.

There is a small gift shop too, all nature related.  Right now the only trail that is open is the 1 mile  Twin Barns trail, it's a complete boardwalk throughout, with plenty of places to stop, sit, enjoy, take pictures, breathe the fresh air.

Last Sunday was particularly beautiful!  Leaves changing into beautiful fall colors, sunlight streaming through the trees.

Look at the scarlet red of these coastal rugosa rosehips, mixed in with other wild plants in the estuary.

Loved these scenes of rich green color in the swamplike atmosphere - birds galore! (again, I won't forget the binoculars next time)

This is a must visit on your journeys through Puget Sound - can be a quick walk, or can turn into a half-day of pure enjoyment.

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