Banner Forest Heritage Park
Trail description: A 636-acre forest near Port Orchard may be best known for being a haven for mountain bikers, but it also has plenty to offer for hikers and equestrians.
The woods are packed with a multitude of short trails with names such as Wally World, Lizard King, Stinky Seat, Roller Coaster and Oh Crap. The trails can be linked together for hours of riding or walking.
Until you become familiar with the trails, it can be easy to get turned around and feel as if you’re lost, but most of the trails eventually empty onto a dirt road that cuts through the forest. The 2.2-mile road runs from Banner Road to the west side of the forest before curving southeast to the gate on Olalla Valley Road.
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Not only is the road a good point of reference for trail users, it is also used for emergency access. The road is otherwise closed to vehicles.
The trails are twisty and considered technical, although mountain bikers of all skills levels are likely to find places to ride at Banner. Volunteers have worked these trails for years, both building and maintaining the single track. The trails have a reputation for being well cared for. A few features can be found along the trails for mountain bikers.
Banner Forest is part of Kitsap County Parks. Wildlife sightings aren’t uncommon in the forest. Most are harmless, but there have been several bear sightings. Warning signs are posted at the forest and on the county website. The website warning specifies multiple sightings of a momma bear and her cubs. Visitors are directed to bebearaware.org for information on what to do if they encounter a bear.
Directions: From state Route 16, take the Mullenix Road exit and follow the road east. Turn left on Olalla Valley Road. Turn left on Banner Road and continue to the parking area, which will be on the left. Parking is also available along Olalla Valley Road near the intersection with Banner Road.
Difficulty rating: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: Varies.
Elevation gain: Varies.
Best time of the year: Year-round.
Map: A map is available at kitsapgov.com/parks.
Also: Camping, overnight parking and fires are not allowed. The master plan for the park, adopted in 2002, is available on the county website. Dogs on leashes are permitted in Banner Forest. Many geocaches are hidden in the forest. Visit geocaching.com for more information.