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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
By now most people know that the Great Peninsula Conservancy has purchased 100 acres adjacent to The Ridge at Buck Lake. Although this land was purchased by the GPC, it will be managed by the Hansville Greenway Association and treated as part of the existing Hansville Greenway.
We (the Hansville Greenway Association) have started work in making the new land accessible. We are in the process of constructing the “main” entrance to the new acquisition, a short distance west of post #3 on the current trail system. The first post, #40, was set on “Twosday—2/22/22.” Although the temperature was 29 degrees and it was snowing lightly, we braved the elements and got the job started.
The following day, we set the rest of the posts, #41 through #44, as well as the two viewpoint signs. A trail from the existing Greenway into the new land was pioneered a week or two ago. We will be getting crews together to construct this trail soon. If you have signed up to help, expect to be getting a call!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Joe Reichmuth for routing the numbers on the new sign posts.
The following photos were taken by Marilyn DeRoy, Howie O’Brien, and Art Ellison.
The Hansville Greenway grew this year when the Great Peninsula Conservancy closed on the sale of 100 acres that include land behind Driftwood Key and between The Ridge at Buck Lake and the current Greenway.
The campaign to acquire the land received 277 donations, including a generous bequest, to reach the $2.15 million purchase price.
While a celebration is in order, the work is really just beginning and the Greenway will need plenty of volunteers to get it done. The area was once forest and was logged. It was replanted with Douglas fir, and non-native species, like Scotch broom, moved in.
The Greenway Association will count on volunteers to remove non-native species and plant native trees and wetland vegetation. Volunteers will also help lay out trails, figure out numbering for sign posts, and install the posts. Work has already started on slashing brush for connector routes to established trails.
The new acreage will necessitate new Greenway maps as well as more trail stewards. Trail stewards walk their designated trail regularly and report problems, like fallen trees or flooding.
Volunteers will be needed for trail maintenance projects, like beating back brush, cutting fallen trees, and repairing bridges.
“There will be lots of opportunities to volunteer, get involved,” says Michael Szerlog, president of the Hansville Greenway Association board.