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Exploring the NK Heritage expansion property
By Patsy Bryan
Special to the Herald
KINGSTON — There’s a little gem nestled between Indianola and Kingston called North Kitsap Heritage Park.
Opened in 2010, it is 430 primitive acres, plus 365 acres owned by Pope Resources adjoining the park on its east side. Together, there are more than 6 miles of soft-surface dirt trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Four-and-a-half miles are old logging roads. The trails are relatively easy for all users. There are no facilities (pack-it-in/pack-it-out), but the trails are well marked.
Directions: The easiest parking is at the Miller Bay Road parking lot, between Gunderson and West Kingston roads. The trail can also be accessed near the White Horse Golf Club and at the end of Norman Road, among others.
I went out recently with a mountain-biking friend and member of the volunteer Park Stewardship Committee (which led the effort for the park’s opening; it maintains and builds trails within the park). A novice mountain biker myself, I wondered if I could navigate the 5.4-mile trip from Miller Bay Road to Norman Road.
The trail: We began our ride on the Spine Line Trail, which will eventually serve as a key portion of the east/west section of the Sound to Olympics trail between the Kingston ferry and the Hood Canal Bridge (learn more and see trail maps at www.northkitsaptrails.org).
The trail starts with a series of switchbacks that level out the climb to the 350-foot highpoint. The trail intersects with several other named trails, clearly marked with signs and mileage, but also with some non-maintained trails.
On this trip, we continued directly up the Spine Line Trail through stands of fir, cedar, maples and alders, with undergrowth of salal, Oregon grape, salmonberries, elderberries, ferns and nettles.
Stop periodically to listen not only to the soughing of the wind in the canopy, but to the many inhabitants of the treetops such as ravens, pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, mourning doves, Pacific slope flycatchers, winter wrens, the Swanson’s thrush and cedar waxwings.
At about .7 miles, the Spine Line Trail crosses into the park expansion property where it descends rather steeply as it traverses the ravine that divides the two parcels, the north slopes of which provide water seeps feeding Grovers Creek. From here it climbs gently to a beautiful beaver pond. Turn left at the gravel road and again bear left at the “Y” near the storm pond to continue .2 miles to the Norman Road trailhead.
To vary the return route, take what is known as the “Little Trail” (unmarked, not on the map) on the right.
The “Little Trail” is about 200 paces from the Norman Road trail marker. This lovely trail will take you through what is reminiscent of a forest primeval. It ends at the intersection with the Spine Line Trail east of the beaver pond.
Continue right, onto the Spine Line Trail and then right onto the Ravine Run Trail about a half mile from the beaver pond.
I was able to negotiate most of Ravine Run on my bike, only needing to walk over a few gnarly areas of roots and logs. The .6 mile long trail returns to the Spine Line Trail near the top of the switchbacks near the Miller Bay Road lot.
We completed the ride in about one hour of moderately-paced riding.
I walked the same route a few days later in about 2.25 hours. Either way, it was time enjoyably well-spent.
On Aug. 4, 4-6 p.m., at on the Kingston waterfront, we will see the dedication of the Kitsap Water Trail, with free shuttle bus (provided by the Suquamish Tribe/Port Madison Enterprises) looping the trail heads from Kingston from 1-5 p.m. Guided hikes and mountain bike rides will be offered by volunteers from the Kitsap Forest and Bay Coalition.
— Patsy Bryan is a member of the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project.