How you get there: Head east off SR305 onto West Port Madison Road, pass Bloedel Reserve’s back gate and a Bob’s Big Boy (no joke), sweep through the curves to County Park Road and the park entrance is on your left. For those undaunted by a little highway travel, it’s a great destination by bike – better still if you ride through Seabold and dash across at the intersection.
Why you should go: As its address suggests, West Port Madison Nature Preserve was established while most of the island was still part of unincorporated Kitsap County, making this one of our oldest parks.
Situated in a comparatively remote corner of the island, the neighborhood still maintains a quiet, “country lane” vibe with a smattering of rolling pasturelands to color your approach. The 13-acre preserve offers winding nature trails amidst firs, cedars and the panoply of PNW understory – ferns, Oregon grape and the like, although ivy is starting to get a toehold at the far end.
Two rustic shelters with river-rock fireplaces make for great picnicking; at trail’s end, a bluff gives a peekaboo view of Port Madison Bay and distant Indianola. (Long-timers may remember a rope ladder down the bluff face to the rocky shoreline below, but in our litigious age that could never last.) The trails offer more of a contemplative walk than a “hike” per se, but there’s plenty to enjoy as you mosey along. Bounded to the north by expansive Bloedel Reserve, the park plays bigger than it looks – the farther you get along the trail, the more distant the rest of the world seems.
Visit the West Port Madison Nature Preserve, post a photo or two in the comments below (Instagram too, and selfies welcome!) tagged #12in12biparks, and get set for next week’s Bainbridge park adventure.