If you enjoy hiking or walking along many of the island’s scenic trails and byways, then plan to celebrate the new Sound To Olympics Trail (STO) Sakai Connector at a dedication and “trail mixer” slated for noon on Wednesday, Nov. 3rd. The trailhead is at the northwest corner of the High School Road and State Route 305 intersection near the Chevron station, and across from the McDonald’s restaurant.
The event is hosted by the City of Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation and Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District. Light snacks will be served, including the Parks Foundation’s homemade “Because We Love Trail Mix.”
The Sakai Connector is the second Bainbridge Island leg of the Sound To Olympics Trail, a regional nonmotorized trail that will link the Winslow ferry terminal with the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.
The short, paved connector runs from the intersection north to Sakai Park, where it links up with trails in the park’s wooded lower bowl. Those trails lead through the park, around scenic Sakai Pond and up to Madison Avenue and the Bainbridge High School campus, adjacent to the Parks’ Aquatic Center.
“This new section of the Sound to Olympics Trail is relatively short, but the link it creates from the existing STO and the school campuses and public pool on Madison Avenue is significant,” says Project Engineer Mark Epstein. “It provides a new connection to explore the trails and observe wildlife around the beautiful pond within Sakai Park.”
The project was funded by the City of Bainbridge Island, primarily by the developers of the Wintergreen Townhomes Project on High School Road as a condition of that affordable housing development. Wintergreen Townhomes would be located in the space between Virginia Mason and Walgreens, and is planning to offer 73 housing units aimed primarily at low and moderate income ranges. The project is awaiting final approval from the City Planning Director and the Hearing Examiner.
You may recall that last spring, a herd of about 120 goats of all shapes, sizes and breeds, munched their way through a smorgasbord of shrubs, overgrown blackberry bushes, prickly plants, tree saplings, weeds, ivy and other wild growth as part of the clean-up project that led to the paved walkway and the next phase of the Sound to Olympics Trail. The Parks Foundation funded land clearing by weed-eating goats, through its Friends of the STO Trail Fund. The beautifully constructed trail work – to be celebrated on Nov. 3rd – was completed by Liden Land Development and Excavation of Poulsbo.
Preliminary planning is now underway on the STO’s next leg, from Sakai Park north to Madison Avenue. The STO is being built in segments, to run north along Highway 305 and eventually reach the Agate Pass Bridge.
According to city officials, the City and Parks Foundation are collaborating on a landscaped plaza at the High School and SR 305 trailhead, with a goal of construction in fall 2022.
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