How you get there: Enter Gazzam Lake Preserve through the back door, aka Deerpath Lane; the Peters trailhead is immediately on your right. It’s maybe not the best destination by bicycle, unless you’re conditioned to scale the sheer face that is Baker Hill West. Be prepared to ditch the bikes in any event, as they are machina non grata on the Peters Trail itself.
Why you should go: When sisters Olemara Peters and Allison Peters Jablonko were thinking of parcelling off the family holdings near Gazzam Lake for public open space, they wanted the buyers to first “experience” the land. Not just walk it – commune with it, get to know it intimately as their family had through generations.
So Open Space Commissioners, Land Trustees, even the local press spent hours with Olemara, treading the 49 forested acres in contemplative silence, pausing to feel the land’s rhythms, absorb its essence and deeper meanings.
Olemara, as she told the hometown newspaper, hoped the land would someday “help people get back their innate faculties” for appreciating the natural world. “Those faculties,” she held, were being “completely suppressed for everybody, by all the electronics and what’s passing for music and entertainment and so forth.”
Mind you, this was even before the twin plagues of smart phones and social media descended upon the land, and our Age of Perpetual Distraction dawned.
The Peters Trail offers relief, however fleeting. The 0.7-mile trail (acquired with city Open Space funds in 2004) descends a wooded hillside, winding through a serene and unspoiled landscape that has much to say – about beauty, about harmony, about time – if you will just listen.
It’s the sort of trek that suits a grey Northwest morning, when mists hang low in the trees and damp earth and a carpet of fir needles calm the step. The path is narrow without being overgrown, huckleberry, ferns and flowering shrubs your constant companions beneath the evergreen and broad-leaf canopy. Expect a few grade changes and switchbacks; the hillside is riven by several gullies, the second falling away to a sylvan pond that rests quietly, tantalizingly out of reach on the far side of the dense understory. Pause to appreciate it, pass by and leave it in peace.
The Peters Trail ends at Listening Lane, at which point you can hike back up the way you came, circle around via Baker Hill, or cross the road, head downhill a ways and extend your hike south to Schel Chelb estuary on Point White.
Can you ever really lose yourself in nature, when you carry a digital portal to “civilization” in your pocket? Try this: leave your smart phone in the car. The trail’s amply marked so you won’t need that GPS, and Olemara Peters, the sage, was right.
Hike the Peters Trail, post a photo or two on Instagram tagged #12in12biparks to win a prize, and get set for next week’s Bainbridge park adventure.