Teddy Bear Cove


Every day Never Closes


Photo Credit: Bud Hardwick
Teddy Bear Cove is a little gem among the publicly accessible locations that can be found along the coastline south of the city of Bellingham. The beach and small coastal headland that forms it can be reached by way of a short but steep trail down from Chuckanut Drive. Visitors to this cove will find a small lovely white “sand” beach as well as beautiful marine views of Chuckanut Bay, nearby islands, and scenic points of land. Further observation may reveal interesting clues to the past ecology and cultural uses of this location.

After carefully crossing busy Chuckanut Drive, a few steps lead visitors to the trailhead at the margin of a very steep forested slope. The trail descends quickly by way of switchbacks and steps. The dense conifer canopy and thin soils keep the understory vegetation low allowing open views within the forest. Notice the lack of huge cut tree stumps so common elsewhere. In the past this and many of the steep slopes of the Chuckanuts were open grassy balds sprinkled in season with blooms of delicate wildflowers. With the development of residences and industry, wild-land fire was suppressed resulting today in a much denser forest environment. Stay on the trail as you descend, shortcutting the switchbacks gains little but damages the weakly anchored slope eventually washing out sections of the trail. As you near the bottom of the slope, peek-a-boo views of the water and the railroad tracks can be seen.

Use extreme caution when crossing the railroad tracks. The sight and sounds of an approaching train can be hidden by the twisty coastline. Gather your group and cross directly, getting out of the rail path as quickly as possible. Directly across the tracks and only a few feet to the left or south a short stairway leads to a pleasant little beach. Stop here if only for a few moments. This small south facing cove is usually piled with large driftwood logs, inevitably gathered as they’re driven north along the coast by the prevailing southerly winds. The frequent wind and waves leave their mark on the headland also. The rock here is scrubbed clean revealing the details of its sand and cobble makeup. Around the corner are examples of the famous honeycomb formation that occurs in the Chuckanut sandstone. Delicate but sharply edged pockets in the rock are formed from the microscopic erosion caused by the evaporation of saltwater spray.

Back up the steps, a narrow path follows the top of the bluff that forms the headland. Wind and salt tortured trees and shrubs show signs of their struggle in their twisted shapes; a madrona lifts naked arms to the sky. Views open onto Chuckanut Bay revealing the nearby rock of Dot Island to the southwest and Clark’s Point nearly due west; seabirds drift closely by. Be careful that the promise of more views doesn’t entice you beyond safe footing; it’s a vertical drop to the water and rocks below. A final dead-end spur of the trail leads along thin slippery footing to the northern point of the headland; interesting, but little gain in views for the additional danger. For those wishing to avoid the bluffs, a faint boot trail leads through the center of the headland joining with the bluff trail and descending down a short dirt path to the beach.

Teddy Bear Cove is attractively formed in a small pocket of the headland. The brilliant white “sand” of the beach shimmers with bright emerald light as it slips beneath the shallow water. The dark face of the headland, rarely receiving direct sunlight, is lush with ferns and other vegetation giving the cove even in winter a surprisingly tropical appearance. Adding to a feeling of mystery are little hidden grottos that have formed where rocks of the headland fell into the water along the margins of the cove, providing a less disturbed habitat for marine life.

Walking the beach it becomes immediately evident that it is not made up of white sand but actually fine particles of ground up sea shell. Archeological evidence suggests that this unusual concentration of seashell fragments may actually be the eroded remains of shell middens, the refuse piles from centuries of shellfish gathering and processing. Among all the whiteness are occasional fragments of red or orange brick. Not unexpected. A former name for this shore was Brickyard Beach named for the brick factory located directly behind it across the railroad tracks. A large swale of open ground has been cut out of the steep slope above it; the result of the mining of the shale and clay material that was formed onsite into brick and industrial tile. Under the trees now growing in this opening are piles of brick and tile fragments that were most likely the broken refuse created during the factory’s operations from about 1915 to 1925. Many local masonry buildings constructed during that period were built with brick manufactured on this very site.

The number of visitors to Teddy Bear Cove varies greatly and is largely dependent on the weather, season and day of the week. For seclusion consider a winter weekday when you might have the beach to yourself or shared only with a passing family of otters. On a warm sunny spring weekend, don’t be surprised if you can’t find room to spread a towel. From the beach, the sunset colors are especially attractive but keep in mind that fires are never allowed. If you’d care for a slightly longer outing, consider visiting the historic Woodstock Farm also accessible from the North Chuckanut Trailhead. For visitors from the sea, be aware that the extensive mudflats to the north become semi-dry land during low tides so use care while exploring this picturesque and varied coastline of Chuckanut Bay.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 8/9/2010


The roadside trailhead for Teddy Bear Cove is located on Chuckanut Drive south of Fairhaven. There is no public parking available at or adjacent to the trailhead but it is directly across the highway from a connection with the very popular Interurban Trail (see article this website). The easiest parking and hiking access is from the North Chuckanut Trailhead located on the east side of Chuckanut Drive between the junctions with Old Samish Road and California Street. It is about a half mile walk south from that parking lot to the Teddy Bear Cove trailhead. Be very cautious when crossing busy Chuckanut Drive. For paddlers entering Chuckanut Bay, the small headland forming Teddy Bear Cove can be found on the northeast end of the bay, a quarter mile south of the railroad trestle crossing Mud Bay.


Fishing | Shady Areas | Walking Trails


Copyright 1998-2022 Kulshan.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED