With lush forests abloom with rhododendrons, hundreds of miles of publicly accessible beaches and breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics, the Kitsap Peninsula is the perfect place to take a hike this weekend or any time, according to Craig Romano, author of Urban Trails: Kitsap.

“The trails scene on the Kitsap Peninsula has been growing wonderfully over the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s exciting. There are lots of new trails and preserves and parks and linking of trails.”

Romano, who lives in Skagit County, said the Kitsap Peninsula is a convenient and less crowded alternative to hiking areas near Seattle and Tacoma. “The Kitsap Peninsula trails don’t get a fraction of the crowds the urban areas do. It’s worth checking out for people in Seattle and Tacoma and it’s just a short ferry ride away.”

Unlike trails in higher elevations, Kitsap Peninsula routes are accessible year-round and are a special treat in late spring and early summer when blooming rhododendrons provide delicate accents of pink amid the evergreens.

“It’s the Washington state flower, but only about 10 percent of the state has it,” said Romano. “The Kitsap Peninsula has some of the best rhododendrons and that’s happening right now.”

We asked Romano to share some of his favorite Kitsap Peninsula region hikes:

Top Three

  • Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve – This family-friendly Seabeck gem pictured at the top shows off the Kitsap Peninsula’s “wild side” with four miles of trails, stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, a large beach and a historic cedar stump house. Info here.

    Rhodies are blooming Photo: Craig Romano

  • Hansville Greenway and Community Trails – More than eight miles of trails take you from Puget Sound to the Hood Canal. Along the way, you’ll pass Otter Meadow, Hawk’s Ponds and Buck Lake. There’s even a connector route to Point No Point County Park and Lighthouse.
  • Grand Forest Park – This popular Bainbridge Island park has well-maintained trails through a mature evergreen forest that includes “ferny gulches, babbling brooks and wetland pools.” The 1.2-mile Main Loop in Grand Forest West is a kid-friendly choice. More.


With so many amazing hikes in the Kitsap Peninsula region, you’ll want to spend at least a couple of days exploring. Go to VisitKitsap.com for lodging options and even more to do on the Natural Side of Puget Sound.