Here on Bainbridge Island, we love our parks and trails, we must, after all we have 58 of them! Our parks house a variety of venues, such as tot lots, playgrounds, sporting fields and courts, open spaces, picnic areas (some with shelters), waterfront and water-view, camping facilities, and nature preserves. Our trails range from deeply forested, beach front, wetlands, upland forests, and equestrian – varying from meandering easy-going trails, to steep and more challenging (click here BIParks.org parks and trails finder).
It was this incredible outdoor environment that Bainbridge Island native, Ranger Sciacca, cut his teeth on, becoming a Junior Ranger at the age of 6, in fact, he loved the outdoors so much, he changed his name to “Ranger”. Ranger has spent most of his life exploring not just Bainbridge Island’s parks and trails, but the parks and trails of the Olympics and Cascades as well—hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, kayaking, and mountaineering.
Today Ranger continues his passion as a Wilderness Program Coordinator for the Outdoor Program produced by BI Parks & Rec, and I had the pleasure of getting together with him to discuss all that BI Parks & Rec has to offer. He’s been a Wilderness First Responder since 2007, as well as being certified in Adult and Child CPR and Airway Management. Ranger led his first backpacking trip while attending Whitman College in 2007, and continued to lead outdoor trips through Whitman after his graduation. Having returned home to Bainbridge Island, he approached the BI Parks & Rec about putting together day hikes for locals and tourists. His timing was perfect, as BI Parks & Rec didn’t really have a formal outdoor program at the time, but were discussing the development of one. In 2010, Ranger led his first hiking trip for BI Parks & Rec—before there was even an official Outdoor Program.
Ranger specializes in backpacking and day hiking programs, they are unique experiences that will take you to low valleys, high peaks, and everywhere in between. Although these trips aren’t officially narrated, many of the Trip Leaders, like Ranger, are well versed in Washington State’s flora and fauna, as well as trail history and geography, and will happily share all that they know with their groups. Each trip is intimate, with only 6-13 participants per excursion, and include guides, van transportation, outdoor gear, camping permits, and park entrance fees, (food is included on backpacking trips only). For more information on pricing and availability, click here.
Ranger was quick to point out that backpacking and hiking is just the tip of the iceberg. BI Parks & Rec also offer several other outdoor excursions and classes, such as mountain biking, sailing, snowshoeing, skiing, kayaking, rowing, paddle boarding and wilderness skill and natural science classes. In addition, they have an aquatics center and a variety of youth, teen and adult programs and day camps. They also offer several special outdoor events throughout the year, click here for more information.
Oh dear…I don’t have the gear…
If you’re visiting the island, or you live here but don’t have the appropriate gear for these excursions, there’s no need to worry. BI Parks & Rec offer a Gearbank, where quality outdoor equipment can be rented or provided for free if you’re participating in one of their programs. The Gearbank is located at the BI Parks & Rec main office at Strawberry Hill Park (they recommend you call ahead, as the staff is often…well outdoors). To learn more about the Gearbank, click here.
When Ranger isn’t exploring the trails of the Pacific Northwest, he’s playing his violin with his band, Ranger and the Re-Arrangers.
To learn more about everything Bainbridge Island Parks & Rec has to offer, visit their website at: https://biparks.org
*Photographs provided by Ranger Sciacca
*BIP&R logo property of Bainbridge Island Parks & Recreation