Go Big in Bremerton

Hike to the Big Tree in Bremerton at the Rhododendron Preserve

Heading south from Poulsbo, make your way to the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula, Bremerton. Best known for its naval and maritime heritage, there’s also plenty of outdoors to explore, including a hidden treasure within the Puget Sound Basin: the Keta Legacy Foundation Rhododendron Preserve.

The heartland of the preserve has 70 acres of old-growth forest where there’s a marquee hike leading to a beloved big tree, known as … Big Tree! It’s an impressively tall and thick Douglas fir (over 30 feet in circumference). Hike to it on the aptly named Big Tree Trail.

It’s about 1.5 miles (round-trip) through mystical landscape with streams and greens, and trees cloaked in twisting branches enshrined in dewy moss. {April 2024 NOTE: Currently the route to the tree is marked with a detour/alternate trail to the tree. This doesn’t add a lot of extra time to the hike, but just be mindful that the detoured route does go to the tree, which is very obvious and set within a viewing platform.} Visit the preserve. No dogs.

Eat + Drink: Crazy Eric’s Drive-In is a Bremerton favorite. Belly up to the retro take-out window and place your order for a crispy chicken sandwich, big cheese + Canadian bacon burger basket, fish & chips, or a good old-fashioned hot dog! You’ve gotta have the fries or onion rings, too. It’s all about comfort food here, including absolutely delicious milkshakes in seasonal flavors like Harvest Peach or classics like Harvey’s Rum Batter.

For waterfront dining with a view of photogenic Manette Bridge, The Boat Shed has a beautiful deck over the water and a rustic upscale indoor setting. Its wide-ranging menu has something for everyone: Salmon Your Way, flat iron steak, chicken piccata, classic cheese burger, and specialty sandwiches like The Sloop (corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a secret sauce!).

Picnic: Take a meal to Evergreen Rotary Park (map), a 10.3-acre waterside respite with pathways, picnic areas, a playground, and plenty more. There’s a Thursday farmers’ market from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., May through October. The poignant Kitsap 9/11 Memorial here includes limestone and steel remnants pulled from the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The park is dog-friendly.

Tip: On your way from Poulsbo to Bremerton you can opt for a short detour to a quick hike at Olympic View Park (map). The park is hidden within a community area. Ripe with foliage, ferns, and impressive trees, it’s a choose-your-own-fairy-trails among a few options: Main Trail, Fern Alley, Tall Trees Loop, and Huckleberry Loop. It’s also dog-friendly!

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