Water, water everywhere. There’s water in our basement. Argh! There’s water running in culverts on island roads, rushing in creeks that are usually silent, down streets and driveways, off of trees and buildings, and bubbling up through lawns and grasses. Blame it on the “Atmospheric River,” the” Pineapple Express,” or whatever other weather moniker your favorite meteorologist uses. Simply put, we’ve had a lot of rain, torrents of rain, nearly a deluge, depending on where you live. And more is on the way!
Three years ago – during another unprecedented rainy season – we mentioned that Bainbridge had experienced so much rain that the downpours created an unusual phenomenon: waterfalls. Most of us know, that Washington State and the Pacific Northwest in general are known for their waterfalls. Think of Snoqualmie Falls, the iconic gusher near the little town of Snoqualmie in the Cascades, Multnomah Falls on the Columbia River, or the lesser known but equally majestic Wallace Falls on the way to Stevens Pass. But Bainbridge Island?
Ok, we’ll be the first to admit that the island’s falls are not exactly torrents of water streaming over some 200-foot-high precipice, but nevertheless we do have a pair of real falls, gushing water on Bainbridge. Seriously, we’re not pulling your leg!
Drive or bike down Country Club Road on the island’s south end, past Toe Jam Hill, through a pot-holed filled section of roadway, and around a hairy 90-degree turn to the left and you’ll begin to approach them. Slowly skirt by an eroding section of road that is dotted with large orange safety barrels, and you’ll eventually come upon the falls. They’re not really obvious at first, being located as they are on a steep bank to the west, or to your right if you are driving or riding south.
If you are in your car, you’re not likely to see this elusive bit of island nature. They are best seen on foot. Or, if you are biking, make the effort to stop and look upward. You’ll discover them more by sound than by sight.
The two separate sets of falls appear to originate on land that might have been part of the old Port Blakely Mill Co. property that was divided up years ago. Some of that pristine land became Islandwood—a 230-plus acre preserve dedicated to teaching underprivileged kids about nature— while much of the rest was turned into 20-acre parcels and high-end housing.
You have to crane your neck a bit around some vegetation to see the falls, but they are there, dropping an estimated 30-50 feet off the edge of the hillside. They are more-or-less ribbons of water rolling down the side of the embankment and forming a stream that spills into a culvert on the side of the road. The falls are approximately 100-to-150 yards apart, with the first one located closer to the eroding roadway. The latter is the statelier of the two.
Like most falls, ours are a distinctly late autumn, winter, and early spring phenomenon on the island, resuscitated by the heavier rains we get from November to March.
A bonus for any search of Bainbridge Falls is the incredible view of the Seattle Skyline you’ll see from this impressive stretch of Country Club Road, along with a peak at the snow-covered Cascades in the distance. Stay there long enough and you’ll likely see a ferry boat steaming into or out of Eagle Harbor or freighters, loaded with cargo, heading to Seattle, Tacoma or Olympia ports.
Good luck finding the falls. Even if you don’t, the trek to this gorgeous little piece of the island is worth the journey.
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