Community

Parks Perspectives: The trails of town

Sequim residents Charlie and Shirley Peppard walk the Gebhardt Zwicker Trail everyday with the company of their canine companions Betty and Jody. Charlie Peppard volunteers for the City of Sequim and helps maintain the trail’s condition.  - Sequim Gazette photo by Alana Linderoth
Sequim residents Charlie and Shirley Peppard walk the Gebhardt Zwicker Trail everyday with the company of their canine companions Betty and Jody. Charlie Peppard volunteers for the City of Sequim and helps maintain the trail’s condition.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Alana Linderoth

Once a sprawling dairy farm extending west from Blake Avenue is a now a small linear park, only 1.21 acres in size known as Gebhardt Zwicker Trail.

The park is considered a nature trail given its unpaved state as it follows the creekside of Bell Creek from Blake Avenue to Haller Street. The park is a small slice of the former 1920s farm owned by Swiss immigrant Gebhardt Zwicker.

The park was dedicated by the Sequim City Council in 2002 and named in remembrance of Zwicker, according to an article by June Robinson. Zwicker came to Sequim from Waldkirch, Switzerland, in 1920 to join a friend. Shortly after his arrival, Zwicker bought land to build his dairy farm and established himself among the community.

By 1931 Zwicker secured American citizenship. He never returned to Switzerland and instead remained in Sequim to operate his farm.

Today, the only remaining and undeveloped part of Zwicker’s dairy farm is the short trail stretching just under a city block in length.

“I don’t think a lot of people even know the trail is here,” Sequim resident Shirley Peppard said. “It’s really pleasant and quiet though, and there’s a nice bench to sit and watch the creek go by.”

Shirley and her husband Charlie Peppard walk the short trail everyday with their two dogs, Betty and Jody. However, Charlie does more than just walk the trail after he began volunteering with the City of Sequim three years ago. Since, Charlie helps to maintain the park and clears the trail of debris, occasionally trims back brush, picks up garbage and disposes the garbage from the trash can situated mid-trail.

“I think at some point it could be more than just a short path,” Shirley said.

On the ODT

The Gebhardt Zwicker Trail is not the only trail in Sequim, although not technically a Sequim city park, the Olympic Discovery Trail passes through city limits and some city parks.

The Olympic Discovery Trail is intended to eventually connect Port Townsend with the West end of Clallam County — an idea that grew from the creation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition that formed in 1987.

To date, the Peninsula Trails Coalition continues to spearhead the construction and maintenance of the trail system.

A 2011 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey designed to gather data from households within the Sequim School District found 75 percent of households have a need for walking, hiking and biking trails, which ranked the highest among alternative needs, such as additional large city parks or beach areas. The same survey concluded within a year-long period 63 percent of households used the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Given the trail’s popularity among Sequim households and in collaboration with the Peninsula Trails Coalition, Sequim city officials are responsible for the maintenance and construction of the trail within city limits, City Manager Steve Burkett said.

“It’s a great amenity for the town and a big draw for both residents and tourists,” Joe Irvin, City of Sequim special projects manager, said.

City officials are working to acquire a grant to finish the portion of the trail along East Fir Street from Blake Avenue into the heart of Sequim.

Upon completion, the Olympic Discovery Trail is planned to have alternative routes through town with a shopping route, a shortcut or a more leisurely route. Although not complete with any information yet, a newly built kiosk constructed by local Eagle Scout Brandon Grow at the corner of North Rhodefer Road and East Washington Street would provide trail information and help to direct trail users through city limits.


Reach Alana Linderoth at alinderoth@sequimgazette.com.

 

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