For most Hansville Greenway hikers, dogwalkers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, one well-packed and trimmed trail leads into another. Ask just about anyone what trail they hiked and they’ll describe it: near a lake or a pond, under a good tree cover, bordered by blackberry thickets, steep hills and nearby cars, lots of uprooted trees.
But surprise! Most of those Greenway areas have real names. You can invite your friends to hike Hawk’s Hole Trail with you or pick summer blackberries in the Briar Patch. Be the first to spot springtime trillium in the Trillium Loop. Watch for bears in Bear Meadow or just feast your eyes on Buck Lake through the trees, since bear sightings on the Greenway are rare. The word is that the meadow actually got its name from several piles of bear scat seen when the trail was being constructed!
Probably the best known trail name is the Great Hall, the wide trail that connects the north and south sections of the Greenway. It’s accessible only from other trails, is flat and offers hikers benches and signposts with directions and distances to exits and other trails. This trail is a bit different from the others, as it was constructed on a railroad grade left over from the 1920’s when the area was logged.
Probably the least known name on the Greenway is the Fackler Forest, which covers the winding woodsy trail from Hawk’s Hole Creek to the turnoffs to Lower Hawk’s Pond and the Trillium Loop.
Ken Shawcroft, one of the Greenway’s founders and still a hearty volunteer, says Rick Fackler was a Kitsap County Parks planner who helped on the big grant that enabled the development of the Greenway trails.
“He was one of the nicest people I ever worked with,” Ken says. “He was a super advocate for the Greenway.”
Check out the Greenway map for the name of your favorite area. Just click on the “Visitor Information” menu item and go down to “Greenway Names and Trail Signposts”.
Trees toppled from one end of the Hansville Greenway to the other in the November winds, leaving holes in the trails, imposing rootball walls and pointy wood lances where proud trees once stood.
“Don’t walk on the trails on a very windy day,” cautioned Howie O’Brien, Greenway project manager. “We’ve had worse, but this last one was a good one.”
The wind had hardly stopped blowing when the Greenway’s organized volunteers were out with chainsaws, loppers, shovels, axes and rakes. They know the drill. Howie said a storm five or six years ago downed 40 trees in the eastern half of the Greenway and another storm claimed 30 trees near Point No Point.
After the latest storm, all the Greenway trails were accessible to hikers within days. The day after the storm, hearty hikers crawled under and over debris, awed by the wreckage but determined to get past it.
In addition to cutting trees and clearing trails, volunteers helped add quarter-minus gravel to dozens of stairs down to the Point No Point beach. The fine gravel is packed into each stair to reduce the chances of puddles, which can make the stairs slippery and hazardous.
Volunteers added the same gravel to the quarter-mile length of the Alder Wetlands trail. The gravel is packed into the trail that starts just off Twin Spits Road to keep the trail wheelchair accessible.
Restoration of the Hood Canal Trail after the storm was a bigger job than the rest of the Greenway. Uprooted trees left holes in the trail that needed filling or minor rerouting. Trees along that route have tumbled steadily since the area was logged a few years ago.
“Trees there grew up surrounded by other trees and protected,” Howie said. “Now the protection is gone.”
It’s 3 p.m. on a cool fall day and the dog is waiting, leash in his mouth. Streets with cars and no sidewalks turn dog-walking into a chore. Instead, I walk the dog on the Hansville Greenway where the 10 miles of intersecting dirt trails provide an adventure. My thanks? I take a bag along and carry dog droppings home. It’s the least I can do.
The Greenway with its canopy of cedars, red alders and Douglas firs is the gift that keeps on giving to Hansville. The trails generously maintained by volunteers year round attract runners, hikers, even people strolling to recuperate after an illness or surgery. Volunteers keep foliage like thorny blackberry bushes from blocking trails, replace bridges, and lay slip-proof wire netting on hills and bridges to protect hikers as much as possible.
I escape life’s daily bustle on the trails. Instead of driving, I can walk through the Greenway to events at the Community Center. Bountiful patches of Oregon grape, salal and thimbleberry absorb nearby road noise before it reaches my ears. I hear quacking wood ducks and mallards and chirping redwing blackbirds and cedar waxwings. On lookout platforms at Lower and Upper Hawks’ Ponds, I savor the quiet and observe lily pads from their exuberant birth in the spring to their brown and crackly departure in the fall.
The Greenway’s trees offer protection. I’ve walked from one end of the Greenway to the other in the rain and emerged nearly as dry as I started. In the right season I eat blackberries and red huckleberries along the way.
Factor in the visible history—logged stumps with notches where planks were inserted for loggers to stand—meeting friends out with their dogs and sighting the occasional deer or bald eagle and the Hansville Greenway is a never-ending treat. Thanks to the energetic volunteers who take such good care of it for all of us.
Winter holidays may be months away, but the Hansville Greenway is ready now with the perfect gift. You can donate toward preserving a 10-acre patch of forest for wildlife and protecting it from development.
The $230,000 price tag may stagger some nature lovers, but the Greenway plans to accept donations of all sizes, giving everyone a chance to participate. Donate in the name of your kids, parents, friends, neighbors, yourself, and you can all claim the title of conservation crusader.
The land for sale is a forested corridor between Lower and Upper Hawk’s Ponds. The landowner could have built on the parcel or sold it to a developer, but preservation was his priority. The Hansville Greenway is the only buyer he wants.
“We’ve been given exclusive right to purchase the acreage,” says Michael Szerlog, president of the Hansville Greenway Association.
No new hiking trail is in the works. The Greenway’s plan is to preserve an unobstructed wildlife corridor between the Lower and Upper Hawk’s Ponds. No new homes will replace beaver lodges that rise from both ponds. No one will log three acres of fairly old cedar and red alder trees that serve as homes for owls, woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, bears and more. Coyotes, beavers, frogs and salamanders will roam free.
On the hottest days, when the asphalt can burn my dog Watson’s paws, we head for the shade of the Greenway. Our favorite entry is at the top of Ponderosa. Our first steps lead us into the shade, where Watson can’t resist the intriguing smells on the swordferns.
Sometimes we head to the right toward the lookout platform at Lower Hawk’s Pond. Red-winged blackbirds sway on the cattails in the pond for part of the summer, filling the air with their delightful song. They’re gone now until probably January and the pond is quiet, but red huckleberries growing next to stumps or downed trees are nearly as inviting. The sweet berries are the size of peas and easily reachable from the trails, which is important because hikers are asked to stick to the trails.
Blackberries are much more abundant in the Greenway than huckleberries. Most are invasive, but they’re still delicious and a treat on a hot hike. I can’t ignore an invasive species when it’s trying to win my favor with its heavenly goodness.
Most years I’ve found hordes of juicy blackberries between Bear Meadow Vista (8) and the turnoff to the newest trails (40). The berries are plentiful and I can feed myself while Watson pulls me along, though thorns periodically stab me.
The Madrona entrance to the new trails leads to the best berry picking. Bushes hanging heavy with dark purple blackberries line the dirt road and almost make the absence of tree shade bearable.
Trail blackberries are native to the area and delicious, but they ripen in early July. Watson and I feast on the trail blackberries on the Hood Canal Trail by the first bridge, close to the ground under the Oregon grape bushes.
When Ken Shawcroft bought a home in the newish Shorewoods subdivision in 1975, more homes were planned for the heavily wooded area that eventually became the Hansville Greenway. But limited water and then a daunting housing bust discouraged most developers.
Sid Knudsen provided a solution when he began working in the 1990s for a conservation and wildlife preservation area with hiking trails to replace residential use plans. Ken was part of that original project. When Sid died last year, four miles of trails connected Puget Sound to Hood Canal through preserved cedar, Douglas fir and red alder woods that provide homes for wildlife.
But Sid’s death didn’t end the Greenway expansion. When word got out last year that the Ridge at Buck Lake developer was willing to sell remaining undeveloped land, the Greenway was notified. The Greenway Association manages but doesn’t own land, so Ken got the Great Peninsula Conservancy’s support.
The generous Hansville community donated and pledged the $2 million needed to buy 100 acres. In January, the land became the newest part of the Greenway.
“Sid Knudsen would be pretty surprised,” Ken says. “We hit his primary goal, but I don’t think he ever thought we would add 100 acres.”
Ken, Howie O’Brien and Art Ellison served on the original Greenway committee that stewarded the land, managed the trail system and developed use guidelines. In January Howie and Art and other volunteers began laboring to build a connecting trail from the Greenway to the new section that offers views of Hood Canal and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. Dirt roads the developers had added before selling the property provided convenient links.
While work on the new section continues, Ken sees an opportunity to extend the Greenway to Cliffside Rd. Landowners have offered to donate narrow strips of land for trails. An agreement may be reached by the end of the year.
“It will be a neat trail,” Ken says, “The reward is getting to walk out there.”
April 28th—Jim, Marilyn, Susan, Howie and I ventured up to Post #6 and did a bit of work on the tree that had blown down. We filled in the hole by the roots and smoothed the trail. Also widened it a bit by cutting roots and dirt from the root wad. People had been going around the cedar next to the trail, so we put an old log and branches to discourage that. Saw three visitors on the trail while there.
What a great feature to have along the trail. As one wise person said: “Dead logs are far more living than live ones”.
May 19th, 7-8 p.m.—Decided to take an early evening walk in the Greenway. Walked while enjoying the sun just starting to get into setting mode. Noted healthy flowers growing along the trail.
May 16, 5-6 p.m.—55 degrees, calm wind.We walked in from Ponderosa to Lower Hawk’s Pond platform and back around Trillium Loop. Half hour of birding at the mostly sunny platform: A solo Black-headed Grosbeak serenaded us from right up above, while Red-winged Blackbirds, Bewicks Wrens, and Marsh Wrens, provided almost a constant chorus. Two Bald Eagles did a flyover. Yellow Pond Lillies are blooming, as well as the pink Western Bog Laurel. Look out to the right
from the platform to see the Bog Laurel in the distance. Quite a few trilliums still in bloom on the loop. A few minor muddy spots on the trail. Wonderful late afternoon walk.
Art is looking for help manning a Greenway booth at the Hansville HeArts & Crafts Show at Buck Lake Park on June 25 and 26. If you’re interested, contact Art at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 27th – I went to check on the maps at Ponderosa today and noticed a couple of trilliums in bloom on the way to the map box. Walked a little farther onto the Trillium Loop and only saw one more in bloom, but there’s not as much sun there. They’re on the way. Van
March 30th – This afternoon we walked through the Chatham and Outback sections in a light rain. The trillium are just beginning, there are yellow violets in bloom, and the red flowering currant is already inviting hummingbirds. Marilyn
April 9th – Trilliums blooming reluctantly in cool weather. Peak is yet to come. Heard many Pacific Wrens on the way to the pond. At the pond saw three Canada Geese, a Pied-billed Grebe, Bald Eagle soaring, several Marsh Wrens, pair of Common Yellowthroats, a few Red-winged Blackbirds. Ken
April 20th – Many trilliums are blooming between #6 and #7. Near the platform at Lower Hawk’s Pond saw Pacific Wrens, Mallards, Redwing Blackbirds. Heard Common Yellowthroats, Marsh Wrens, Pacific Slope Flycatcher. In the forest north of the pond heard Black-throated Gray Warbler, Brown Creeper, Downy Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Chickadees. (Ken)
The Hansville Community and Hansville Greenway Association have together been selected by Kitsap County Public Works and the Board of County Commissioners as a 2022 Earth Day Award winner, in recognition of making the 100-acre Greenway expansion a reality! There’s a lot to do to reclaim this land as a healthy forest and wildlife corridor, as well as to keep the pre-existing Greenway in shape. If you want to be included in these efforts, be sure to sign up with both the county (https://www.volgistics.com/ex/portal.dll/ap?AP=566670317&OR=1) and GPC (https://greatpeninsulaconservancy.salsalabs.org/hansvillegreenwayvolunteerform) as a volunteer. If you contact Art Ellison at email@example.com, he will add you to the lists where you can be notified of upcoming projects and/or receive and submit trail reports.
On Saturday, March 26, The Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) held the official ribbon cutting for the new 100-acre acquisition adjacent to the Ridge at Buck Lake development and adjoining the northwest portion of the Hansville Greenway.
There were about 50 people in attendance and GPC Executive Director Nate Daniel thanked all of the people involved in this project. He then led the group on a hike to the Olympic viewpoint where he explained the long-range plans to restore the habitat to benefit the wildlife and environment.
For those who have not been following this, a 100-acre parcel of land became available and, though the efforts of many volunteers and our wonderful community, enough money was donated to purchase it. GPC will hold title to the land and asked the Hansville Greenway Association to manage it as part of the Hansville Greenway.