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green Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Tour

  3.3 ( 11 ) Favorite


5.0 mile 8.0 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 40' 12 m
Descent: -40' -12 m
High: 17' 5 m
Low: 7' 2 m


Avg Grade: 0% (0°)
Max Grade: 2% (1°)


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Trail shared by Emily Roeben


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Tour the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge with this classic loop of trails.

Emily Roeben

Features Birding · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly Flat & stroller friendly. Lots of birds & places to stop to enjoy the views. The visitor center is a great place to stop. There are no restrooms past the two port-a-potties at the Twin Barns.

Daily fee is $3.00 per four adults. Interagency Annual Pass, Access Passport, Federal Duck Stamp, or an Annual Refuge Pass will admit pass holder & 3 adults (16yrs+). 16yrs and under are free.

Open daily for wildlife viewing and nature photography from sunrise to sunset. The office is open M-F, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, and closed on all Federal holidays.

The last 700 feet of the boardwalk is closed seasonally from early October through late January during the waterfowl hunting season.


Combine the Twin Barns Loop Trail and the Nisqually Estuary Trail & Boardwalk for this great out-and-back loop, ideal for touring the refuge. You'll see the different estuary environments and wildlife ranging from birds to sea creatures, and maybe even beavers. There is an excessive variety of birds. This popular trail is well maintained, from dirt paths to gravel and also boardwalk.

Need to Know

Bring sunscreen, bug spray, a camera, and binoculars. If interested in birding, bring a field guide to help identify all the varieties you see.


Begin on the Twin Barns Loop Trail through marsh, grassland and boarwalk, as well as freshwater marshes. A highlight is the Twin Barns observation platform, where visitors can stop and enjoy their surroundings before traveling along an earthen, gravel-trail dike, with the salt water estuary in the north and freshwater wetlands to the south.

After a half mile, visitors transition from the dike to the Nisqually Estuary Trail & Boardwalk, where they will be treated to incredible views of the waterway and, on clear days, Mt. Rainier. There is a viewing tower and various blinds long the boardwalk that are perfect resting spots and display information engaging for visitors of all ages. The boardwalk ends at the Puget Sound Viewing Platform. Note that the last 700 feet of boardwalk is closed seasonally from early October through late January during the waterfowl hunting season.

Returning to the Twin Barns Loop Trail, be sure to visit the Nisqually River Overlook and the Riparian Forest Overlook for additional wildlife viewing opportunities.

Please be aware that the Refuge is not a park, and therefore pets, games, or sports are not allowed due to their disruption of wildlife. Please visit fully prepared to go slow and take in all of the information about this unique ecosystem.

Visit the official website for more information.

Flora & Fauna

This area boasts a rich diversity of pants and wildlife. For in-depth seasonal wildlife information, visit the park's website.

History & Background

Nisqually River Delta came under protection in 1974 as the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to protect the delta and its diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. The estuary underwent restoration in 2009 when dikes were removed and 762 acres were reconnected with the Puget Sound and it's tidal flow.

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Apr 27, 2019
Michael Mantini
Beautiful, sunny day. Missed the last viewpoint because the girlfriend was tired. 5mi — 13h 30m
Dec 18, 2018
Jessica Parker
Nov 18, 2017
Amber Phinney
Sep 10, 2017
Andre Petzold
Feb 1, 2017
Katie Myhre
Nov 19, 2016
Genna Olson
Sep 3, 2016
Nate Jones
Apr 14, 2016
J Blalock

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 11 votes


  3.3 from 11 votes
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