BY KYLE KIM
Named after Chief Kitsap of the Suquamish tribe, Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula is well-known for its relaxed atmosphere and close historical ties with the U.S. Navy. But these aren’t the only features the area has to offer a traveler: Kitsap also has a plethora of lengthy cycling trails throughout the peninsula. There’s no better way to get yourself acquainted with Kitsap Peninsula than bicycling one of these trails—they could easily serve as a self-guided tour for some of Kitsap County’s points of interest, including parks, towns, hatcheries or gardens.
Take the Tahuya-Bear Creek Loop, for example: It’s a 28-mile showcase of Kitsap County’s rural side. Traffic here is infrequent and greenery is abundant on this bike route, making it perfect for a serene cycling getaway. The loop will take you into a captivating natural countryside; it skims by lakes and intertwines with creeks and streams. Going counterclockwise, you’ll start near Wildcat Lake, pass by Tahuya Lake and dance with Mission Creek on your ride down the scenic Gold Creek Road, before meeting up with Bear Creek at the Old Belfair Highway.
Farther down the cycling trail, past the Gold Mountain golf club, is Otto Jarstad Park. Here, the local Suquamish tribe works with Washington’s government to manage the creek’s resources, including a hatchery with four salmon-rearing ponds. After passing through the park, you’ll hit the busier roads again around Kitsap Lake—there are a few restaurants here if the need for a refreshment break arises. Past Kitsap Creek, you’ll head down the forested and scenic Seabeck Highway before returning to your starting point at Wildcat Lake.
Alternatively, for a route through farm country, look no further than the Kitsap Peninsula-Poulsbo Loop. This 26.3-mile tour covers a variety of notable landmarks throughout both Poulsbo and Port Gamble. Starting in Poulsbo and going counterclockwise, this route first skirts Liberty Bay, hitting a diverse number of landmarks along the way. Between parks, restaurants, waterside access and a maritime museum, Poulsbo’s bayside community truly has something for everyone.
Past Lemolo, the loop heads away from Liberty Bay and cuts through the hilly center of the peninsula to get to Suquamish. It’ll take you past the Suquamish Museum before guiding you up to Highway 104 toward your next destination, historic Port Gamble. This unincorporated community is a 19th-century time capsule and its residents work hard to maintain its historic ambiance and culture. You’ll pass by the historic St. Paul’s Church and a few restaurants on this route, and you can also take a detour to browse for treasures in town’s well-stocked General Store.
After cycling through Port Gamble, you’ll loop back toward Four Corners, passing Prancing Goat Farm along the way. Take some time to greet the goats or continue south through Four Corners and down Big Valley Road before arriving in North Poulsbo to complete the loop.
Find maps and more information about Kitsap Peninsula’s many bicycle trails at visitkitsap.com/bike-routes. Stay a while; find lodging at visitkitsap.com/places-to-stay.