The public will get its first chance Tuesday to walk the entire Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail.
After a one-hour dedication ceremony at 1 p.m., refuge visitors will be able to walk to the Puget Sound viewing platform at the end of the mile-long boardwalk. There will be an incoming tide that afternoon, giving attendees a good view of the changes the estuary experiences as the water surges in.
The $2.8 million boardwalk will provide visitors a view of a good portion of the 762 acres of the Nisqually River delta that were restored last year.
“The implications of what (the restoration) might be doing to help all of Puget Sound, it’s hard to imagine,” Jean Takekawa, refuge manager, said in an interview last month. “There are some dramatic changes coming.”
The new trail features include an observation tower, an enclosed viewing blind, several push-outs and two covered viewing platforms.
The boardwalk replaces the 5.5-mile Brown Farm Dike Trail that ran across the dike and was removed as part of the restoration.
To walk from the refuge visitor center on the Twin Barns Loop and new exterior dike trail to the far end of the boardwalk and back is now a four-mile hike.
Trail hours: The trail will be open every day from sunrise to sunset. There is a partial closure during the waterfowl hunt season from October to January. Only the first 0.3-mile of the boardwalk will be open then.
Bring binoculars: They will give you a better view of the more wildlife, near and far.
Special viewing: The railing along the boardwalk has a mesh fence, so children and people in wheelchairs can safely look through the spaces between rails. Also, at the three covered platforms, there are locations where the railing has been lowered so children and people in wheelchairs can look out on the estuary or down into the water.
Be prepared: If you must, stop at the Twin Barns portable toilet. There are no facilities on the boardwalk and trail.
Early start: People planning to attend the ceremonies are urged to arrive by at least 12:15 p.m. to allow time to walk the one mile to get to the ceremony site.
Getting there: The refuge is at Exit 114 on Interstate 5 near Lacey.
Cost: Refuge entrance fee is $3 per vehicle or an annual pass.
Information: 360-753-9467, www.fws.gov/nisqually