I’m a walker. But you already know that from this, this and this post. In my ongoing search for interesting Kitsap walking paths, I discovered Winslow’s Waterfront Loop Trails, a series of interconnected walking routes that hug the shores of Eagle Harbor and then loop back through downtown commercial and residential Winslow past interesting sites. A handy walking map can be found at the ends of the trail or downloaded here.
Armed with the detailed map, I discovered I’d previously walked portions of the trail, but walked it without really knowing the history and sites along the way. With the map I discovered I’d unwittingly passed by:
The only known grove of Monterey Pines in King or Kitsap counties.
A shipyard that built WWII minesweepers
The site of an old strawberry cannery
The filled in ravine that formerly divided Winslow into two communities
Historic bungalows lived in by shipyard workers
And 6. My favorite Bainbridge pub located in Ambrose Grow’s 1880’s home
There are two loops to the Waterfront Trail, each about two miles long. This is a historical and nature walk that’s best done with plenty of time to observe the sites. For a deep dive into the history, the walk conveniently passes the Island Center School House which now serves as the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. The museum is filled with artifacts of the island’s past and very helpful staff who want to insure all your questions are answered.
Finding the Bainbridge Halls Hill Labyrinth and its Community Tibetan Prayer Wheel is not so easy if, like me, you don’t know the island’s backroads, but I’ve been there a few times now.
It’s stunning in the summer when the Asian inspired landscaping fully complements the labyrinth and prayer wheel and it’s stunning in the winter when rain highlights the varied colors in the four quadrants of the labyrinth. However, I never remember how to get there and so on my most recent foray I asked The Google for directions and he revealed four more Bainbridge labyrinths also on private land (all of them churches) but regularly open to the public and another one in a public park. How many public labyrinths are there in Kitsap County?
It turns out there are two more – one in Kingston and one in Silverdale, both of them on welcoming church property. And the south end of the county lends its own unique contributions to the county labyrinth culture. A Port Orchard couple who have a semi public labyrinth belong to a state network of labyrinth events and consult on building labyrinths. And a Bremerton based artist makes finger labyrinths.
I set out to walk them all and discovered each is unique. While most of the county labyrinths accessible to the public are on church property, labyrinths are not part of any specific religion. The earliest ones are from the Middle Ages and were intended to be used as both a meditative and spiritual practice.
The labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church on East Day Road, Bainbridge is one of two walking meditative features. The architecturally stunning church is located down a long driveway and the labyrinth is on a small north rise above the parking lot. Made of gravel and lined with stones, this labyrinth was built in the Chartres pattern of two circuitous paths to the center. Beyond the labyrinth is a meditation trail that winds through the trees.
Bethany Lutheran Church on Finch Road, Bainbridge maintains a seven circuit stone and gravel medieval labyrinth on the southwest part of their property. Since the church also hosts a large park and ride parking lot, I wondered if the labyrinth also provided stress reduction for the island’s significant Seattle bound daily commuter population.
The Eagle Harbor Congregational Church labyrinth in downtown Bainbridge was nearly indistinguishable from its surroundings when I visited. Covered with needles, the seven circuit brick lined labyrinth is on the south side of the church just off the parking lot.
Eagledale Park on Bainbridge has a large, well-signed hilltop labyrinth with a view of Mt. Rainier. The park was once part of a Cold War Nike missile complex which made me wonder how many of THOSE we have in Kitsap County – a future blog post.
In Kingston, the United Methodist Church on Shorty Campbell Road has a small three circuit labyrinth behind the church. While open to the public the church asks that it not be visited on Sunday mornings while services are in progress.
It was one of our recent cold, frosty days when I found the Silverdale labyrinth located at the Silverdale Lutheran Church on Ridgepoint Drive. I like that walking the pathway leads to a contemplative bench.
And for anyone not wanting to brave the elements of an outdoor labyrinth, Brian Watson, a Bremerton artist and woodworker makes beautiful finger labyrinths. The above photo is from his website.
ADDENDUM: Readers of this post informed me of two more labyrinths on Bainbridge Island; one at Sakai Intermediate School and another at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church. Check out this link from the Smithsonian for more information about labyrinths.