Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

Woods, Water…and a charming Stump House

Guillemot Cove is a 185-acre nature reserve, and a good Kitsap County day hike for families…or for anybody! A downhill hike toward the beach, over boardwalks through marshes, to a charming stump house I would have loved for my childhood clubhouse and, if you want to make it more challenging, there’s a ridge trail you can take, as well.

See below for a  GPX track, map, and more route and park information or jump to the post.

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

Woods, Water…and a charming Stump House

Guillemot Cove is a 185-acre nature reserve, and a good Kitsap County day hike for families…or for anybody! A downhill hike toward the beach, over boardwalks through marshes, to a charming stump house I would have loved for my childhood clubhouse and, if you want to make it more challenging, there’s a ridge trail you can take, as well.

See below for a  GPX track and map and more route and park information or jump to the post.

Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Hike Data

This is a map of my route during my last Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Hike, which includes the Ridge Trail. Or you can skip ahead and read the post.

2019-06-05
  • Distance 3.41 miles
  • Time 1 h 34 min
  • Speed 13 mph
  • Min altitude 7 ft
  • Peak 374 ft
  • Climb 1,027 ft
  • Descent 1,027 ft
  • Distance Instructions
Label

Getting There

I’m happy to report that GPS generally navigates well to the trailhead, but coming from the North end, takes me on a more circuitous route than the directions below.  Click here for Google Map directions from your own location.

However, for those who need written directions, the most straightforward route is from the Kitsap County website:

“From Hwy.3: take Newberry Hill exit; travel to Seabeck Holly Road; turn right. Drive to Miami Beach Road; turn right – drive to “Y”; veer left onto Stavis Bay Road. Drive 4.5 miles to the entrance and parking lot.”

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Kid-Friendly HikeKid-Friendly

No DogsNo Dogs Allowed

No Toilets

Guillemot Cove, in Seabeck, WA by Hood Canal, is one of my favorite Kitsap County day hikes!

This route goes down the Sawmill and Margaret trails, over to the stump house (which I would have loved when I was a kid, wait...I still do!), and up around the ridge trail, then down to the beach and back up. Be sure to visit the stump house while you're near the beach!

It skips the river loop, which is also a nice hike. But save your energy...this is a beach hike, so there's a whole lot of uphill on the way back.

I marked the difficulty level as "moderate" due to the elevation and the fact that the first time I did it I was with someone who was grumpy about the elevation on what I said would be an "easy" hike, but most kids will enjoy the hike and LOVE the stump house.

If you want a printed trail map, there's usually some available at the trailhead that you can borrow and return for the next hiker when you're done. Or, if you want a printable one in advance there's one here.

Seabeck
Sunday
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61°
few clouds
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Clouds20%
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Humidity87%
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Wind3mph

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

Legend says a criminal by the name of “Dirty Thompson” hid out in the Stump House in the 1800s, according to the Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve official web page. While I thought that the little hut in the park was charming, and the kid in me covets it for my childhood clubhouse, learning about this history just adds to the charm.

I also learned there that the cove’s other title, “Frenchmen’s Cove” was, not surprisingly, because a man from France once had a cabin here.

Rhododendron Guillemot Cove Nature ReserveBut, stump houses and Frenchmen aside, Guillemot Cove remains one of my favorite short day hikes in Kitsap County, at least in the summer. In June, multi-colored rhododendrons are in bloom, some wildflowers are starting to emerge, and the boardwalks across the estuary are navigable. I’ve attempted this hike during rainier months, only to find that the boardwalks (which you cross to get to the stump house) were flooded over with water.

Guillemot

It’s a nature reserve, with plenty of wildlife…but I’ve never noted any of the guillemots here from which the cove takes its name, but I’ve spotted eagles.

Usually, I’ve ended up here at high tide, but I’m sure the park is a fun place to explore with kids at low tide.

The Descent

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Sawmill Trail Sign

Get a printed map at the trailhead, if you want one. Return it later for the next hiker to use.

Take the trail, and when you reach the “Sawmill Trail” sign, take a right. If you go left, it will take you to a road which also descends down toward the beach. Sawmill Trail will turn into Margaret Trail and lead you down to the beach.

The trails here are a bit steep, with numerous roots, so watch your step. I’ve mostly done this hike without poles but found them helpful on my last adventure here.

Once you get to the bottom of the trail, you’ll see the estuary, cross boardwalks and stepping stones to get to the other side…if you’re here in summer. I’ve seen the boardwalks flooded over in winter.

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Boardwalk
Hiking Guillemot Nature Reserve stepping stones

The Stump House

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Stump House Sign

After you’ve crossed the boardwalks, you’ll see the sign to get to the stump house (or to the beach). Take the trail to the stump house.

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Rerserve Stump House

A Hilly Detour

Turn around and go back the way you came, then down the beach trail.

You’ll come to another sign. If you want to add even more elevation to your hike (remember, you have to hike out of here when you’re done), you can take the Ridge Trail, which loops around back to the beach. If not, go directly on to the beach (after you look both ways for ants, if you read the smaller sign).

Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Ridge Trail Sign

The Beach

You might see signs for the “Beach House” trail. Don’t get too excited, the beach house is a small, empty house on the beach. It isn’t in good condition and is closed off to visitors trying to enter. However, there are small steps in front, which is my stop for taking a break, eating a snack, and enjoying this beautiful view of the Olympics across the cove and Hood Canal:

Frenchman's Cove Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve
Hiking Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve Maple Tree Trail Sign

After you’ve enjoyed the beach, head back across the estuary. You’ll see a sign pointing up the Margaret Trail, which will get you back to the Sawmill Trail, and then to the trailhead. But to the right, you’ll see another sign: Maple Tree Trail. This leads to the Big Maple Trail and the River Loop and goes along Boyce Creek.

The Climb

Time to head back! Follow the Margaret Trail sign. Get ready for some uphill. After all, this was a beach hike, so of course it’s uphill on the way back (or so my daughter reminds me).