Teddy Bear Cove has shoreline exposures of west-dipping Chuckanut Formation conglomerate, and a couple of nice swimming beaches. It is a Whatcom County Park on Chuckanut Bay reached by a short trail from Chuckanut Drive.
Getting there: The trail head for this and several other fine hikes in the Chuckanut Mountains is at the North Chuckanut trailhead on Chuckanut Drive (Washington 11) just south of the junction with Old Samish Road. Walk up the trail to the Interurban Trail, then proceed south, crossing California and Spokane Streets. In 6/10s of a mile, the trail down to Teddy Bear branches to the right and crosses busy Chuckanut Drive. The trail then switchbacks down through the woods to cross the railroad tracks in 1/4 mile.
The geology: I recommend crossing the tracks obliquely to the left to find the white crushed shell beach on the south side of the bedrock point separating the beaches. Conglomerate on the south edge of the rocky point has a nice sharp contact with a bed of coarse sandstone immediately underneath and provides a fine illustration of the concept of ‘strike’ and ‘dip’ and the ‘right hand rule’. (Click for primer about structure on this website.) The contact between these two facies of the Chuckanut Formation strikes 155° and dips 55°. (scroll down)
The conglomerate consists of pebbles of several different rock types in a matrix of sandstone. The pebbles are matrix-supported. ‘Matrix-supported’ means that the pebbles are dispersed within the finer sandstone, rather than touching each other. If that were the case, then the conglomerate would be ‘clast supported’. The pebbles aren’t all that rounded, but they are round enough to be conglomerate rather than angular ‘breccia’. The most prominent pebbles are dark, with skinny white quartz veins. These are clasts derived from the Darrington phyllite, which is probably the metamorphic rock beneath the Chuckanut around here. However, the contact is not exposed anywhere north of the Lake Samish area, and is probably a ways below the surface here. Presumably, the phyllite predominates because in the Eocene the river that deposited this sediment was eroding an outcrop of phyllite, and dropped the pebbles here. Other rocks I noticed among the pebble clasts include white ‘bull’ quartz (probably derived from quartz veins somewhere), and some reddish chert. Darrington phyllite is full of quartz veins, but I’d be surprised if the fairly well-rounded pebbles of quartz came from that rock: quartz is a hard mineral, and has to be subjected to a fair amount of stream transport to become rounded. Folding then tipped the Chuckanut beds; these at Teddy Bear are on the common limbs of an anticline/syncline pair running northwest-southeast (see the image at the top of the page). The anticline itself is plunging down to the northwest. The anticline’s axis is near the trailhead. You passed a few outcrops of the sandstone facies of the Chuckanut Formation along the Interurban Trail. This website’s has a Chuckanut Formation page , with links to other field trips.
The beach consists of crushed shells. I recognized bits of barnacles and clam shells. There is some sand interspersed, perhaps eroded from the Chuckanut. You can wade out quite a way, and enjoy a nice swim here.
Teddy Bear was a renowned nude beach “Teddy Bare Cove” in those days). The freight train often slow down in nice weather so the engineers could enjoy the scenery; sometimes they would toss cold beers out of the windows. Whatcom County bought the property in the late ’80s or early ’90s, and that ended the tacit tolerance of nudity. The alternative was to let the property owner develop the hillside and eliminate decades of public access to the two little beaches. You might still find a holdout sunbathing or swimming in the all-together, but the good ol’ days of cheek-by-jowl nekkidness have passed. But, you didn’t come to this webpage to read about THAT, did you?
If the tide is out far enough, you can walk a barnacle-studded ledge north beyond the conglomerate-sandstone contact, right along the seaward face of the short cliff. Back at the RR tracks, find a trail going up to the top of the point. The madrona trees up here are all dying, alas. Pebble-studded glacial till lies on top of the Chuckanut at the cliff’s edge right above the southern beach. It is entertaining (well, to some people) to compare the appearance of this till with the pebbly conglomerate.
At the north end of the point, a trail drops down to the north-facing wind-protected curve of sandy beach- true sand rather than shells here. Red bricks are found in the water. According to historian Wes Gannaway, these are remnants of a brick-making operation that was here during the early 1900s. Clay was mined from a shale bed up the hill toward Chuckanut Drive, and th point was originally known as ‘Brickyard Point’. Chuckanut Bay was a big sandstone shipping site in those times; a large quarry 1/4 further south along the tracks exported plenty of sandstone blocks for rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire.
On the way back, note all the vesicular lava in the ballast around the train tracks.