Nature & Birding Tour

Nature & Birding Tour

Itinerary for Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

By Cindy Jones

Map? Check. Boots? Check. Binoculars? Check. Now grab your hiking stick and prepare to explore. The irony, of course, is that to do very much walking you’re going to first want some wheels. So unplug that Leaf and load up the Kleen Kanteens—it won’t take much of your charge to get to the trailhead.

Start out in the sun on the east side of the island. Fay Bainbridge Park offers a stretch of wild shoreline and a fresh salty breeze. Keep an eye out for eagles, ospreys and shorebirds, and be ready to hop over driftwood to get to the beach.

Next, swing further south and to the west side of the island; look for the Grand Forest parking area and get set to hike. You’ll find big old growth trees and a seasonal stream—do the main loop at least and check out the side trails if you want to explore more. When you’ve circled back to the car, just keep right on walking—the trail continues on the other side of the road. Another mile of shaded pathway leads to Battlepoint Park, where the trees give way to wide-open space (hence the name of the trail, Forest to Sky). The perimeter path is a flat loop of about two miles. Birders, don’t miss the duck pond at the far end of the park.

Once you’ve retraced your steps and are back at the car, hop in and head south toward Fort Ward Park. Choose the lower entrance to be closer to the water. Be sure to look for cormorants sunning themselves at the south end of the park; to the north you’ll see the Olympic Mountains on days when it’s clear. Birder bonus: add an extra stop at Schel-Chelb Estuary near Lynwood Center.

When it’s finally time to head back into town, you’ll be comfortable in your khakis at the casual Harbour Public House. Dig into one of their specials and down a chilly, well-deserved local beer.