The Refuge has 7 miles of walking trails. The one-mile Twin Barns Loop Trail is a fully accessible boardwalk trail with access to the observation platform. The 5.5 mile Brown Farm Dike Trail provides views of many different habitats and access to the observation platform and photo blinds. Please stay on the trails. Seasonal closures of trails occur throughout the year.
The Refuge presents many wonderful opportunities for photographers. Two photo blinds, observation platforms, and trails provide countless possibilities to capture that perfect moment.
Brown Farm Dike Loop Trail (Seasonal) : This level 5 ? mile loop trail is on an earthen dike. The trail is wide with both gravel and dirt surfaces and can be muddy in some places. All the major types of habitat found at the Refuge can be seen from this trail.
To Observation Tower (Seasonal) : The observation tower is located 2 miles along the east side of the Brown Farm Dike Trail. The tower overlooks the salt marsh and mud flats and can accommodate about 8 people.
Ring Dike TrailThe Ring Dike is a ? mile trail located 1 mile along the east side of the Brown Farm Dike Trail. It offers views of a freshwater marsh.
Twin Barns Loop Trail : This level 1 mile boardwalk passes through woodland, grasslands, and freshwater marshes to the Twin Barns and observation platform, ending back where it starts at the Visitor Center. There are two spur trails off this trail, the Riparian Forest Overlook and the Nisqually River Overlook.
To Riparian Forest Overlook : A short trail to an observation deck branches off the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail. It curves through a surge plain, where very high tide causes the Nisqually River to spill into wooded habitat.
To Nisqually River Overlook : A little under one-half of a mile around the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, the boardwalk extends for another 150 yards to the river. Here there is an observation deck with a mounted spotting scope for wildlife viewing along the Nisqually River.
To McAllister Creek : To get to McAllister Creek, walk along the south side of the Brown Farm Dike Trail for ? mile. This section of trail passes through grasslands and freshwater marshes.
Seasonal Trail Closures : Three miles of the Brown Farm Dike Trail are closed during waterfowl hunting season. Typically the closure is from early October to late January, but specific dates vary from year to year. The trail is closed because waterfowl hunting is allowed on Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife lands adjacent to the Refuge trail. It is not safe to walk in the area, and closing the trail provides an undisturbed area for birds to rest and feed. For more information, see the Seasonal Trail Closures map.
Thank You for your interest in a field trip to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge! Each year approximately 5,000 students, teachers, and group leaders visit Nisqually NWR.
The Refuge is a popular place and reservations for school groups are required. Call the Refuge office at (360) 753-9467 for a copy of the reservation form.
Teacher Resources : We recommend that teachers visit the Refuge and walk the trails prior to their field trip as well as have clearly defined goals and objectives. The Refuge also offers many resources to assist in planning and making the most of your field trip.
NEW! The Second Edition of the Educator's Guide to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. "Where the River Meets the Sound," is the final version of the educator's guide that offers complete field trip planning, preparation, and activities for the classroom and field trip.
Lesson Planning Assistance : The Refuge Environmental Education Coordinator is available to meet with teachers and group leaders to help plan field trips. This staff member can recommend activities and places to go on the refuge that will help you achieve your learning objectives.
Teacher Workshops : The first Nisqually NWR teacher workshop was held in April 2002 with Educator's Guides given to participants and clock hours available. Given the success of this training, we will hold workshops at least twice a year.
Program Offerings : Teachers are responsible for planning and leading their field trip activities. The volunteer or staff guides will assist you with the following program elements:
Orientation Talks by Refuge Volunteers : Refuge volunteers are available upon request to give a brief (15-20 minutes) orientation program to groups with reservations.
Making Reservations : Advanced reservations are required for all school groups visiting Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Nisqually NWR is a popular place with limited facilities. With reservations we can schedule classes so they do not use Refuge facilities at the same time, coordinate with volunteers, and provide better interpretive and educational programs.
* To make a reservation, contact the Environmental Education Coordinator, Kayla Matthies at (360) 753-9467 or [email protected]
* Reservations are processed on a first come, first served basis from the day the application forms are received at the Refuge office.
* If you have requested a service provided by Refuge staff and volunteers, allow at least two weeks for your application to be processed.
* Once the application has been processed you will receive written notification confirming dates and times for your group's visit. Please bring this confirmation form with you when you visit the Refuge.
The number of groups may vary, however, the number of total students is limited to 100 students on any given day. This may be five groups of 20 students or two groups of 50. This number is in addition to the public visitors who do not have reservations.
What About the Entrance Fee?Education groups must meet the following criteria in order for the fee to be waived:
* The education activity of the group should be formally structured with an approved course of study which focuses on the natural environment.
* The students are involved in a hands-on field activity on Refuge lands.
Groups that qualify as "education" groups will have "exempt" stamped on their confirmation notice.
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located 8 miles northeast of Olympia, Washington.
From Interstate 5 southbound, take exit 114. Make a right at the traffic light, go under the freeway and make a right into the Refuge. Follow the entrance road to the two public parking lots.
From Interstate 5 northbound, take exit 114. Make a left at the stop sign, go under the highway and make a right into the Refuge. Follow the entrance road to the two public parking lots.