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Greenways shine during conservancy walk

HANSVILLE — Cutting through the cold October air Saturday morning, 12 walkers huffed and laughed as they shared stories and fascinating finds along the side of the trail. Despite the cool temperatures, the visitors couldn’t be deterred from exploring one of the North End’s jewels.

The weekend brought out enthusiastic nature buffs from all around Kitsap County to enjoy the Hansville Greenways on a six-mile walk hosted by the Great Peninsula Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy. Hansville resident, and member of both conservancy groups, Millard Martin led the walk, sharing bits of knowledge and discoveries he has gained over the 12 years he’s spent in Hansville.

“During this hike, I always lose someone,” he said before the walk began. “People find someplace they don’t want to leave, so don’t leave. People usually break off from the group here.”

The Greenways, spanning 175 acres with meandering paths and a main trail, are well marked, and Martin said walkers shouldn’t feel shy about exploring on their own. Invariably, visitors will connect with one of the stops — like the Quiet Place or Lower Hawk’s Pond — and they’ll want to stay there for the rest of the day.

Many in attendance were looking for more trails to hike or were new to the area and utilizing the opportunity to explore North Kitsap’s outdoors. The GPC works to host some sort of nature event each weekend of the year, Martin said, spanning Kitsap County and beyond.

“We’re trying to find spots close to where we live like this,” said Poulsbo resident Joan Woods. “This place is just so special, with the evergreens, the water. And then you add in the mountains, it’s just spectacular.”

Hansville resident Brian Mallabon said he and his wife moved back to the Hansville area after spending several years in California, and before that, 20 years in Edmonds. While in the Golden State, he said he was a part of a conservancy agency there, located in south Orange County, and participated in many hikes and outings similar to the one held Saturday.

“I just love to get out in nature,” Mallabon said. “We all have to get out and do our part to preserve it, I like to see places like this that are preserved.”

The Greenways started out as 92 acres of hand-cut paths 16 years ago, but under the care and help of Hansville residents, the GPC and The Nature Conservancy, it has flourished into something much larger and special to the area, Martin said. Some residents donated large portions of their property, back when the trails first started, to guarantee the land was preserved. They essentially have an enormous trail system as their backyard now, he said.

“The birds are really amazing in the Greenways,” Martin said. “It’s just an extraordinarily, rich area. It’s about 200 acres, and I enjoy all of it.”

Those interested in the GPC walks or its other informational events can visit its Web site at www.greatpeninsula.org.

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