The king of the Clear Creek Trail

Mike and Jenny Thorne of Silverdale were out walking the Clear Creek Trail on Sept. 25 near the All Star Lanes when they met Tex Lewis — perhaps the trail’s hardest working devotee. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Mike and Jenny Thorne of Silverdale were out walking the Clear Creek Trail on Sept. 25 near the All Star Lanes when they met Tex Lewis — perhaps the trail’s hardest working devotee.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

Clear Creek Trail is more than just a trail.

It’s a network of trails, weaving its way from the Dyes Inlet delta and the Old Mill Site in the south, to the old Petersen Farm in the high-valley wetlands just north of Waaga Way.

The system switches back and forth across the creek — bridges, large and small; the trails graveled or boardwalked; four-and-a-half miles — so far.

People are on the trail every day of the week. walking, jogging or strolling to admire the lush flora and plentiful fauna.

Tex Lewis, a Central Kitsap Community Councilman who has been deeply involved with creating the trails, recently gave a guided tour in anticipation of dedicating the system, Oct. 5-6.

First stop, the Red Barn and Interpretive Center off Levin Road near Dyes Inlet. On the outside was a well-restored 100-year-old barn of modest dimensions. On the inside was a spacious two-story museum containing a growing pile of artifacts and large timeline on one wall.

“We try to show the Clear Creek system from the glacial period to modern day,” said Lewis. “We want this center to be an educational place, as well as a place of recreation.”

Artifacts included horse shoes, a miniature frontier wagon from the Schold pioneer family, an old hay winch, an oil stove, and a pitch fork made of carved wood.

An elder gentleman with a small dog just outside the barn commented that he walks the trail “twice a day” from the nearby Christa Shores retirement community.

When asked his name, he simply said. “Oh, I’m just an old Army guy with my little buddy here, Robby, a west highland white terrier.”

After the man left, Lewis smiled and commented “It’s guys like that, that make all this worthwhile.”

Other retirees were also encountered.

Clear Creek runs through the middle of Silverdale as though it were the community’s backbone. When you’re in town, you’re unaware of the trails. They’re just distant trees and brush behind the various shopping malls. When you’re on the trails, the town seems a distant roar of traffic with occasional glimpses of big-box stores.

You’re in the woods.

Lewis and other backers say this is the reason for the trails. So that people caught in the rush of Silverdale can find a place to hike; bird watch chickadees, woodpeckers, eagles, red-wing black birds and red-tail hawks; glimpse deer and even the occasional bear; watch salmon swim and sometimes “crawl” upstream; be soothed by swaying trees cedar, hemlock and fir.

The system includes more than two dozen informational kiosks erected by Eagle Scouts, said Lewis, numerous detention ponds for wildlife such as fish and otters and the birds.

“It provides a natural buffer for the community that people can use,” he said.

Countless businesses whose backs were to the stream donated easements for the trails. The remnants of old homesteads are found along the trail. County parks bought 10 acres of the old Shaw property inland. State parks donated picnic tables. Aside from the Scouts, the Seabees helped, the developmentally disabled came out and helped, elementary school kids, the Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, county Public Works helped. Ace pavement donated all the gravel. Smith Barney donated the Red Barn.

“We’ve been working on it nine years and probably have $350,000 in donated labor, materials, artifacts, land, cash...,” said Lewis.

Lewis said he’d like to see feeder trails to residential neighborhoods. And it may be possible to allow bikes on trails eventually.

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