Covering more than 200 acres on Bainbridge Island, the Grand Forest is comprised of the Grand Forest North, Grand Forest East and Grand Forest West, with the east and west sides now joined at the Hilltop meadow—the first east-to-west connection across the island all on public property. Walk the trail with BCB host Annie Osburn and Dan Hamlin, parks services superintendent of the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District.
In this debut episode of “Bainbridge Outdoors,” Osburn and Hamlin begin their adventure at the Miller Road trailhead in the Grand Forest West. Together, they wind their way along the main loop trail to waypoint 17, where they turn left and head toward east side creek and the Grand Forest bridge, which was refurbished in 2012. Listen to the sounds of deep forest as they cross the bridge, merge onto the Ron Williamson Trillium Trail and head up to the open meadow at Hilltop, which connects to the Hilltop Trail and the Grand Forest East.
The Grand Forest offers six miles of trails (three miles on the east side and three miles on the west side of the forest), which are open to walking, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Six trailheads and three parking areas make the Grand Forest East and West easily accessible from several directions. Rich in Pacific Northwest native plants, the Grand Forest offers plenty of Douglas fir and cedar trees, bracken fern, salal plants and Evergreen huckleberry. Visitors to the forest also may see deer, raccoon and coyotes, as well as mallards and the occasional barred owl or great blue heron.
Hamlin notes that the creation of the Grand Forest trails strongly relies on the ongoing support of volunteers. “These trails are here because of the many hours and dedicated passion that volunteers have offered on the island. When we build a trail, we don’t want anyone to know that it wasn’t there already. Later, when we walk away from the trail and somebody comes across it and says, ‘When did that happen?’, that’s exactly the way we want it.”
Whether you are a novice hiker to the Grand Forest or a regular visitor, there is always something new to experience. Recent enhancements to the Grand Forest mapping system include waypoint signs with QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone to access a trail map along the way.
Correction: During the recording of this episode, Dan Hamlin incorrectly stated that it’s possible to walk from the Veterane trail all the way to Manitou Beach. He meant to say the Fairy Dell trail. The Veterane trail is currently under construction.
Credits: Podcast host and producer: Annie Osburn; field tech, audio editor and BCB Bainbridge Outdoors music splash: Tim Bird.