Hiking in the Pacific Northwest in November is almost unheard of. The days are getting shorter and shorter, and by now we’re usually getting pelted by rain, originating from the weather maker of all weather makers – the dreaded Pineapple Express!
Typically, November is our wettest month. Indeed, we can recall a soggy November from yesteryear when Bainbridge Island was saturated during these 30 days with a record 15 inches of rain. It was miserable.
Not this year. We’re experiencing an incredible run of nice weather: cold, crisp mornings followed by bright sunny afternoons under azure blue skies. We won’t get into whether this weather pattern has anything to do with climate change or any other phenomena.
Instead, we just want to enjoy it. And one way we did so recently was to hike the Hansville Greenway Wildlife Corridor. If you haven’t walked this eight-mile traverse that loops from Buck Lake to the Point No Point Lighthouse and back, you’re in for a treat. That is, if you enjoy a challenging hike through some beautiful forests, dotted with colorful deciduous trees, Red and Yellow Cedars and any number of Doug Firs.
As mentioned, the hike begins at Buck Lake, a Kitsap County park that’s at the end of Hansville Road. Just look for the brown signs that direct you to turn left up a windy road to the park. The lake itself (more of a pond for those of us who grew up on the East Coast) has a nice sandy beach that is great for swimming and kayaking in the warmer months. It’s also nice for picnicking – weather permitting – and there’s a wonderful kids’ playground in the park.
To reach the Hansville Greenway Wildlife Corridor, pop out of your car, or off your bike, and walk southwest across a field that is approximately 100 yards long. On the other side, you’ll see a little kiosk with a map of the trail. In the past there used to be maps you could snatch up and take with you on your hike, but we didn’t see any this time around.
The trail starts out through a thick stand of woods, and then turns left into a small meadow, where you follow it back into a forest thicket. The trail is well marked and gives you some options, such as hiking to the lake or further on down, visiting Upper Hawk’s Pond or Lower Hawk’s Pond. There are also trails to some surrounding subdivisions.
We stayed on what we consider the main trail, making our way through a mixed forest and eventually over a creek that one can assume flows from the upper to the lower ponds. This forest is probably in its second or third stage of growth. If you keep your eyes peeled on the hike, you’re bound to see springboard etchings on large Cedar and Doug Fir stumps.
Back before there were chain saws, lumberjacks cut down these once massive trees with large handsaws. The bottom of these specimens were so wide that the loggers would shimmy up to a reasonable height where the diameter wasn’t so large and then they would make a cut in the wood where they could stand and saw – on a springboard, if you will. We’ve probably counted a good dozen, or so, trees with these markings in these particular woods.
Once you cross the creek – over a well-constructed bridge – you’ll climb up a hill and end up on an old forest road, with a bunch of scratch piles (old logs and bushes) on the right. Eventually, you will come to Milepost 18, where you duck back into the woods and walk along an undulating trail for about a mile or so until you get to Hansville Road. Once there you cross the road and re-connect with the trail on the other side.
Now you are entering a thicker forest with some more up and down trails. When we were hiking it – a day after a big windstorm – there were a lot of down trees and branches scattered about, and leaves everywhere. After a mile or so – maybe a bit longer – the trail suddenly ends. But don’t fret. Take a left and walk up to Thors Road NE, and follow it down hill to the entrance to Point No Point County Park.
The road has some spectacular views of Puget Sound and Whidbey Island in the distance. You may even spy some cool looking farm equipment from years gone by. As we walked on the PNP trail, we had to climb over a huge old cedar tree that had fallen down during the windstorm. This trail has some beautiful old maple trees as well along its sides and the fall colors were in full flower.
At the end of this trail there is a lovely view of the sound, and, nearby, is a set of stairs that takes you to the beach, where we had lunch on a giant driftwood log. From here you can see the Seattle skyline in the distance, and if you’re lucky, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker, along with Shilshole, Magnolia, and other Seattle neighborhoods.
To get back to your car, or bike, you walk by the Lighthouse – that has some interesting artwork around it – and make your way up Point No Point Road to Twin Spits Road and eventually crossing Hansville Road once again. You have to hoof it up the road to where the trail starts again (look for the sign) and follow the trail back to the parking lot. This section also has some nice stands of mixed forest, before you basically retrace your steps to where you started.
We have found that the Hansville Greenway Wildlife Corridor is an invigorating and scenic hike regardless of what time of year you do it. Happy hiking!
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