Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve
Puget Sound Hiking
Located on Hood Canal, Guillemot Cove (also known as Frenchmans Cove) is a undeveloped Kitsap County park full of trails and some rather unique locations to see. The main highlight of course is the beach, with the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Boyce Creek flows out from the woods and kids love playing where the water cuts through the sandy beach. Guillemot is a type of coastal bird and there are lots of birding opportunities around the cove. Other sites include the old beach house, a barns and even a house made inside a giant cedar stump. Be aware, this is a hike that requires dropping over a mile to the beach with a climb on the return. If you like to bring beach toys and use restroom facilities, might want to pick another location.
Just south of Seabeck, turn right onto Miami Beach Road and in 1 mile stay left onto Stavis Bay Road. Follow this winding road for 4.5 miles to the signed Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve. The free parking is on the right side of the road, while the trail begins on the left side.
Distance: 1.2 miles to Hood Canal Beach
Elevation Drop/Return: 300 feet
Road Access: Paved
19235 Stavis Bay Road NW, Seabeck, WA
From the trailhead, the wide path quickly hits a junction and kiosk. Turn right and follow a minute to a second trail junction (unsigned). Here you have a choice. Left takes you to the road-walk down to the beach. To the right is the hiking trail route down to the beach. Both are nice walks so do a loop (print map below). The hiking trail that goes right is the Sawmill Trail. Follow it to a junction where a sign points to the right for the Margaret Trail, the route to the beach. Both routes merge back up at the bottom at another kiosk and bridge over Boyce Creek. Signs prohibit continuing further on the road due to a private homesite. Most of the trails leave from the bridge area, just use the map and pick one or two.
The trail starts in the meadow across from the old barn. Part of the meadow is quite wet. The trail ends at the Stump House, a large hollowed out cedar stump with a roof.
Stump House Trail
This trail begins by the barn and follows an old roadbed. It continues along Boyce Creek, is flat, easy, passing large sword ferns as it goes through an alder and big leaf maple forest with a small meadow and the River Loop Trail completes the loop.
Maple Tree Trail & River Trail Loop
This trail follows the old roadbed across Boyce Creek through a meadow and forest adjacent to the marsh. At the beach house there is access to the beach on Hood Canal.
Beach House Trail
Behind the beach house, and to the left, this trail winds up several steep hills and through a forest of conifers, alders, and big leaf maples.
In 1939, the Reynolds family discovered Guillemot Cove while walking along the waterfront. Mr. Reynolds was a bird watcher and he took his family on weekend trips, often to Guillemot Cove. There, the family would explore, and sight many varied species of birds. The cove, woods, or the near-by stream, which ran though a swamp, was the perfect and undisturbed habitat of hundreds of birds and other woodland creatures. That same year, the family bought 80 acres of Guillemot Cove property, and gradually bought surrounding parcels of land, until it totaled 158 acres. The cove had originally been named Frenchman’s Cove, because a Frenchman named Henri Querrette
had previously owned a cabin on the northern shore of the cove. On some maps, it had even been called Brown’s Cove, but the family renamed it for the black and white bird that they often sighted. When the Reynolds family purchased the Guillemot Cove property, it was run-down. Once open areas were overgrown with alders, and abandoned shacks built by farmers in the 1800’s (who also had cleared the once open areas), were falling into ruins. The Stump House, which legend said a criminal called Dirty Thompson had built to hide out in from the law, was then without a roof. The family spent
summers there cleaning up/ the useless shacks were burned down. The previously cleared spots, which were over-grown, were won back with difficulty. The scrubby alders were felled and pigs were used to root out the stumps. In the possession of the Reynolds were six pigs, a few milk cows, sheep, and one or two horses, so the family built a barn. The cows were milked every morning, and cream was carted to Bremerton, were it was sold. In 1946, the Reynolds built a beach house as their summer residence. The family milled their own lumber from the woods to build it. Some of this lumber was also used to build the barn. From the famous springboard red cedar trees came wood for the interior finishing. These springboard trees were logged in the 1890s. The loggers would cut a notch in base of a tree, the insert a board in the notch. They would then stand on the board in order to reach the place in the tree above where the tree flared out into the roots. On many stumps in Guillemot, you can still see the notches for the springboard, including the Stump House. The Reynolds were ready to retire in 1993, and so the property was up for sale. Bit the family was worried about someone developing the land. According to the zoning ordinances, as many as 175 residences could be erected. But then the county took an interest, and the Reynolds lowered the price to enable the Trust for Public Land to purchase the 158 acres of Guillemot Cove property. Guillemot Cove is presently a nature reserve.
Guillemot Cove History
Looking south down Hood Canal
Stump House (photo by contour5)
Roadwalk down to the Cove
Margaret trail climbing out of the cove
Main access trail
Near the parking area
Parking area for Guillemot Cove
Road along the marsh near the cove
Boyce Creek entering Hood Canal