Whatcom Magazine

Teddy Bear Cove: Enjoy short, steep hike from woods to sea

Rebecca Sauter of Bellingham walks along the beach at Teddy Bear Cove in spring 2010.
Rebecca Sauter of Bellingham walks along the beach at Teddy Bear Cove in spring 2010. The Bellingham Herald

Teddy Bear Cove, near Bellingham, is a popular destination year-round for people looking for an outing that takes them from woods to Chuckanut Bay. It’s ideal if you don’t have a lot of time but want to squeeze in a hike that’s a bit more challenging than just a pretty amble.

Difficulty: Easy to strenuous. There’s an elevation gain of roughly 600 feet.

Round trip: Up to 2.6 miles.

Users: Pedestrians only; dogs aren’t allowed.

Teddy Bear Cove is actually two coves, one highlighted by honeycomb formations in sandstone and the other by crushed clam shells.

Why you’ll like it: The switchback route is short and steep but worth the effort. Walk through Western red cedars, madronas and Douglas fir while listening for the squeaky call of hairy woodpeckers, or the rapid-fire of their pecking. From the cove — actually two coves, the north and the south — look over the water to lovely views of Clark’s Point and Lummi and Cypress islands.

Low tides offer a chance to explore marine life in tidepools.

You also can admire the honeycomb formations in Chuckanut sandstone in the north cove, which is also home to the remains of a 1920s brick factory. The south cove boasts a white-sand beach made up of crushed clam shells left by American Indians over hundreds of years.

Driving directions: From Bellingham, head south on Chuckanut Drive to the parking lot for the North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead, near California Street. The lot is maintained by Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department, so you don’t need a Discover Pass to park at the trailhead, which is a the starting point for several hikes through the Chuckanuts.

Getting there: From the trailhead, hike 0.2-mile up Hemlock Trail to the Interurban Trail. Then walk south for about half of a mile to a spur across Chuckanut Drive to the Teddy Bear Cove Trail. It’s another 0.2-mile down to the beach.

Details: http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/2184/Teddy-Bear-Cove