This lovely 445-acre area of upland forest and wetlands in southwest Bainbridge is the island’s second largest tract of undeveloped land. A crucial wildlife preserve, it is home to owls, osprey, bald eagles, wood ducks, coyote, raccoons, deer, and even the occasional bear. A complex system of over 4 miles of mostly unmarked trails crisscrosses the park, past 13-acre freshwater Gazzam Lake and through forest and boggy stretches. The park’s flora includes big-leaf maple, red cedar, Douglas fir, stands of alder, stinging nettle, deer fern, sword fern, and salmonberry, as well as rogue blackberry, ivy, and scotch broom, which the Park District periodically attempts to remove in select areas. A protective parent owl has been known to swoop at walkers, so be aware, especially in the spring.
With recent additions of land from the Land Trust and private owners, Gazzam Lake Park is a large area great for exploring. Just make sure you remember which path you turned down last and bring a sandwich in case you don’t. Check out the graffiti on the water towers near the Deerpath trailhead.
Trailheads: from the North end a quarter mile west of Crystal Springs Drive from Marshall Road; from the South end off of Baker Hill Road on Deerpath Lane, with a four-car parking area at the trailhead.
Photos by Julie Hall, 2011.Gazzam Lake Park and Wildlife Preserve,