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Banner Forest

Olympic Peninsula

Location

Olympic Peninsula -- Kitsap Peninsula
View map below

Length

4.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 50 ft.
Highest Point: 430 ft.

Rating

3.50 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

From either parking lot the main route through Banner Forest follows an old road, which is about two miles end to end. The route takes about an hour, so allow at least two hours in total to explore Banner Forest before returning to your car. Add more if you take a spur trail. Kiosks at both trailheads have a map and general rules but no amenities. A few benches can be found throughout the park.

The road itself has a gentle grade, and is in excellent shape, offering a good option for all ages and abilities. In contrast, the trail system is more rugged, although well maintained. Still, areas of mud and rough sections do exist. On top of that the trail network is a maze of intersections which can confuse and disorient a person into frustration, as there are few signs. It's necessary to bring a map if you're going to navigate the trails. Follow this link to the map provided by Kitsap County and print it out for your hike. 

It would be impossible to describe in detail all the trails in the park, but they generally connect to the main route, and wind their way through an airy forest of fir and salal, with here and there a pine or cedar tree. There are also a few old hemlocks, most noticeably along the Mismash trail. However, the middle section of the main route (roughly one mile from either trailhead) passes through a dreary hall of juvenile firs. Compare this section (or avoid it altogether) to the magnificent north central area with its stately trunks, lofty canopy, and lush salal understory dotted with ferns, downed trees, and various fungi.

Near the center of Banner Forest lies a protected wetland which is transected by several trails. Please remain on trail in the wetlands as they are fragile. This "environmental laboratory" is the centerpiece of the park's conservation efforts, and sharply juxtaposes the working forest (meaning future harvest) that surrounds it. Banner Forest was originally set aside to fund schools through the harvest of its timber. It seemed destined to become a planned neighborhood in the 1990's, but was saved by local action. The trails are now maintained by the volunteers of Banner Forest Stewardship Group.

The park's trails are mixed use -- hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding are all permitted. Dogs are also allowed with the usual etiquette rules. Please don't unleash your dogs here, as black bears occasionally visit the area. A biker was seriously injured here in 2007 when he and his dogs surprised a large bear. If you're riding or running make some noise just as you would in the mountains.

The park is popular with mountain bikers, so be sure to keep an eye out whether you are hiking or riding as well. Horses are less common, but their evidence is ubiquitous.

 

Banner Forest

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.4893, -122.5457 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Olympic Peninsula -- Kitsap Peninsula

Kitsap County Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Official Kitsap County Parks map (trails do not appear on USGS maps).

http://www.kitsapgov.com/parks/Parks/Pages/Trail_Maps.htm

Getting There

From Gig Harbor take Highway 16 north to SE Mullenix Rd and turn right, heading east for 2.4 miles to the junction with Olalla Valley Rd SE. Turn left, staying on SE Olalla Valley Rd 1.4 miles to the southeast trailhead, which has room for several vehicles. 15 miles from Gig Harbor.

From Seattle board the Fauntleroy Ferry bound for Southworth and Port Orchard. From the ferry landing follow Highway 160 (which becomes SE Sedgwick Rd) west for 2.5 miles then turn left onto Banner Road SE and proceed 1 mile further for the northeast trailhead, which has plenty of room for vehicles and horse trailers. Banner Forest is only 13 air miles from downtown Seattle.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Banner Forest

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