If you’re looking for a day hike that’s remarkably close to Seattle (45 minutes from the Bremerton Ferry Terminal) and surprisingly under-explored, the trailhead at the Guillemot Nature Preserve is an excellent place to start. Expect sweeping views of Hood Canal, surprising solitude, and plenty of wildlife.
The trail is dappled with light streaming through the thick old-growth cedar, hemlock, and the occasional yew. It’s extremely easy to navigate, very kid friendly, and so far off the beaten path that you’ll sometimes feel like you’ve strayed far into the backcountry.
The entire preserve was once a private estate, and the then-owners abandoned an old residence and barn at the edge of a wide open pasture just a short mile from the trailhead. Here, informational placards detail the history of the grounds and suggest different hiking trails around the preserve.
Continue on Beach House Trail and shortly arrive at the shore of Hood Canal. Underneath the towering Olympics—across the largest fjord in the continental United States—take a moment to drink in the oyster-strewn beach, high-perched bald eagles, and the salt-infused air. Keep an eye out for the occasional penguin-looking bird, the guillemot, for which this park is named.
Double back and navigate toward the Stump House Trail, the terminus of that boasts the Hobbit-like structure that entices many visitors. An old western cedar stump provides the main structure of the house. There’s still ample evidence of the loggers that cut this behemoth down—one piece of which is the two notches that are old springboard notches. Though there’s no hard knowledge of who built the Stump House, urban legend tells of an outlaw who used it as a hideout years and years ago.