Looking for a beautiful, natural space to go for a hike, relax, or just get out of the house? The Illahee Preserve is the perfect place to go. Located in Bremerton Washington, the preserve protects a lot of the area’s wildlife, as well as keeping the natural area from being developed.
The Name Illahee
This area in Bremerton Washington is highly influenced by Native American culture, evident in the names of many of the towns, neighborhoods, and parks. The word “Illahee” comes from the Chinook Native American tribe and means “a place to rest.” The Illahee Preserve was named a place of rest because the tribe treasured the forest and its abundance of wildlife.
About the Preserve
The Illahee Preserve located near Bremerton Washington is a Kitsap County Heritage Park, a part of the Kitsap County Parks Foundations efforts to preserve nature. Illahee Preserve covers over 570 acres of land, some of which is open to the public and some of which is not. The part that is restricted to the public is a wildlife preserve area. Over these 570 acres of land there are 55 different species of birds sighted by the Kitsap Audubon Society. The preserve includes small portions of Illahee Creek, full of fish.
One of the key factors bringing people to the Illahee Preserve is the extensive trails throughout the forested area. Collectively, there are about 5 miles of public trails winding throughout the Illahee Preserve. There are countless intermixing trails, creating many different paths and loops that visitors can take. These hikes vary from a mile to up to 3 miles for one loop. The trails are all stroller friendly and easy for walking, hiking, or even trail running. The Illahee Preserve provides Bremerton with ample amounts of outdoor adventure space.
History of the Illahee Preserve
The Illahee Forest went through a shift when a fire in 1732 allowed room for Western White Pine and Western Hemlock to grow amid the more established species. The forest continued to grow and recover from the fire effectively. The native people again were able to rest in the forest.
Shortly after, immigrants started to come to the area and build homesteads. During this time, a federal decree set aside 640 acres of land as the Illahee Trust Land. In the 1930s, timber companies cut down many of the trees which cleared some of the area. The Douglas Fir and Western White Pines that were spared are now nearly 280 year old specimens.
Throughout the years, many have tried to clear cut the forest to develop it and use the wood for commercial uses. Luckily, these measures have failed and the lad has been preserved. A local campaign has worked to convince government leaders and agencies to preserve the land and set it aside as a designated park. Today, the Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee, a volunteer organization, works alongside the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation department to manage the property and protect the land in Bremerton and around Kitsap county.
While in Bremerton Washington
If you are a local, or if you’re in the area for a while, make sure to check out the USS Turner Joy Museum Ship. The area is also home to Olympic College, if you are interested in touring a college campus!
Photo credit: Photo is by George Wesley & Bonita Dannells @ https://flic.kr/p/9fPayU