Intermediate hikes in Kitsap County to finish Summer

Newberry Hill Heritage Park and Ewok Trail Loop offer challenging but attainable treks

With the last hiking feature covering a couple of good “beginner hikes” in Kitsap County, it is time to ramp it up a bit and check out some of the slightly more formidable, intermediate-length hikes in the area.

After researching good trails on the Kitsap Peninsula, it becomes quickly evident that this area is a hiker’s dream, given the amount of intermediate-to-long hikes nearby. After looking over several of them, I decided on Newberry Hill Heritage Park and the Ewok Trail Loop in the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park.

Newberry Hill Heritage Park, located in west Silverdale is home to a daunting 13 miles of trails. Please bear in mind that just because the park happens to have 13 miles of trails, doesn’t mean you have to trek through all of it. The variety of access points throughout the park offer visitors a choice of starting points and trails which are cut into manageable portions.

One of the more popular entrances to Newberry Hill Heritage Park is just before Klahowya Secondary School right between Seabeck and Chico. This section of the trail consists of the small northwest quadrant and the larger southeast section.

Before heading off on your adventure, make sure to grab a map at the trailhead sign if you are unfamiliar with the park. One of the first things you’ll notice will be the hilly terrain and the density of the forest, similar to the Illahee Forest Preserve. The only difference here is the Newberry Hill Heritage Park is 13 miles total, while the Illahee Forest Preserve is just under three miles.

The main trail from this access point is the Big Cedar Trail, named after the full forest of large cedar trees. Hemlock trees, rhododendrons, sword ferns, and a variety of mosses also make up the surrounding vegetation. The small trail lanes make the park a good destination for mountain bikers, cross-country runners, or simply those of us who love a good sightseeing hike.

Plenty of woodpeckers can also be seen and heard knocking away at the trees in the quiet forest. Car noise is not much of a factor here, as the park is not close to any major roadways. At certain parts of the trail, the sun will peek through the less dense areas of the forest to make a nicely overlaid hue.

Other trails at Newberry Hill Heritage Park include the Alder Pass Trail, consisting of, you guessed it, big alder trees. The next intersection is the Beaver Loop trail, where wetlands can be seen through the tree branches. Once the trail leads you downhill to another junction, make a left onto Bobcat Run for the last half-mile, which will lead you back to your car over by Klahowya Secondary School.

For more advanced hikers, there are plenty more trails to check out in Newberry Hill Heritage Park.

Another great Kitsap County hike in the four-mile range is the Ewok Trail Loop at Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park. Along the Hood Canal, sits this beautiful and often busy 3.5-mile trail loop. There is only one main entrance here with a parking lot, unlike the multiple access points at Newberry Hill Heritage Park.

As you approach the trail, one of the first things you’ll notice is the main gravel trail is much wider than many trails in the region, making it more accessible for groups of people to walk through comfortably. Just after starting down the main trail, an option is available on the left to take the quarter-mile-long Stumps Trail to the intersection of logging road 1000.

Stumps Trail resembles the likes of Newberry Hill Heritage Park and Illahee Forest Preserve with its forest density, elevation changes, and narrow walking paths. The main walking path has plenty of open space and allows for much more sunlight than some of the denser forest trails in the region. Cars can be heard just off of Highway 104 the closer you are to the roadway, but nothing overwhelmingly loud.

This loop is considered a hot spot for mountain bikers, given the amount of space and the option of a few off-beaten trails. Old corroded pipes were seen laying in the woods at the logging road intersection. If you choose to head down a logging road, you will pass by a walking bridge over a creek that leads to the Ewok/Ranger trail on the right.

Follow the Ewok trail and trek through the fern understory to see spectacular Douglas Fir trees until you reach the crest of the hill where the trail intersects with ET trail. Walk back along the ET to descend to Logging Road 1000 where you will be led back to the parking lot.

If you’re someone who thinks they’re ready to make the leap from short, beginner hikes to slightly more substantial hikes, feel free to give these two trails a trek.

Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tshuey@soundpublishing.com

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