Sports

Pedaling the off-road Central Kitsap terrain

When Tim Baker has a hankering for a healthy hike and a viewpoint of Seattle, he doesn’t hesitate to visit his favorite mountain bike trail at Green Mountain.

Although North Kitsap gets most of the attention for mountain bike trails, Baker feels at home peddling through the Central Kitsap wilderness.

Baker is the vice president at the West Sound Cycling Club in Silverdale and has been riding for 20 years. He said the Green Mountain state forest is a prime spot that’s often overlooked by cyclists who don’t want to push their bike.

But the 62-year-old doesn’t mind hiking if it means he’ll see a clear image of the Olympic Mountains and the Emerald City.

“It’s a gorgeous spot up there,” Baker said. “For such a nice place, not a lot of people get up there. I think some people think it’s harder because of the steep climb to get up there, but I think it has one of the best viewpoints in the country.”

Green Mountain is a 6,000-acre forest nestled a few miles west of Bremerton that attracts an average of more than 50,000 visitors each year, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. In addition, there are 13 miles of trails that provide Kitsap mountain bike riders with a long scenic route to the peak, no matter the season.

“I love going to the summit all the time,” said Baker, who organizes social rides to Green Mountain every Saturday for nearly two years. “This time of the year, it’s more difficult to ride off road because there’s not much light after work, but I still enjoy going there quite frequently.”

Another option for Central Kitsap and Bremerton riders is Newberry Hill Heritage Park near Klahowya Secondary School. The area is owned by Kitsap County and currently in development.

According to the county’s website, the park may be expanded by 315 acres this year through a Natural Resources agreement. The expansion process started in 2004 when the county added 247 acres in the north part of the park. In 2009, they received 520 acres of the southern parcel near Klahowya.

The Newberry trails are newer and more challenging than neighboring Green Mountain, said John Hawkins, who runs the Northwest Trail Riders Mountain Bike Club. For those interested in the heavy terrain, the Klahowya site is a suitable fit for riders.

“There’s a lot more technical skill riding through the Klahowya trails than just bombing up and down Green Mountain, not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Hawkins added. “Klahowya has become a favorite of mine because it’s more winding around beaver ponds and it’s more scenic.”

Hawkins is a longtime outdoor guide with a riding background dating 30 years, and serves on the board of directors at the North Kitsap Trails Association. He favors the Stottlemeyer mountain bike range as his top getaway, but appreciates the fresh tracks at Klahowya’s Newberry forest.

“After trails get old, up by Green Mountain, which used to have motorcycles, they get torn up and rocky,” Hawkins added. “I like the younger trails because they’re still dirt. It’s a neat area with lots of riding.”

Additional Kitsap County bike trails include Anderson Landing, Banner Forest, Hansville Greenway, Illahee Preserve Heritage Park, Clear Creek Trail, Guillemot Cove and North Kitsap Heritage Park.

For more information, contact Hawkins via e-mail at john@radicallyinclined.com.

His mountain bike club will meet every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. this summer. The group travels to different trailheads in the county after daylight savings time starts in March.

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