Revel in the Great Outdoors in the Great Pacific Northwest
If you enjoy nature and wildlife, or simply cherish the peace and quiet that nature provides, you will be happy here! The Inn at Mallard Cove sits on tranquil Puget Sound salt waterfront surrounded on three sides by fourteen acres of pristine forest protected by a land trust. Mallard Cove itself is an active estuary, where salt and fresh waters meet to support and nourish a great variety of plants, birds, animals and sea life.
We are fortunate that our undeveloped shoreline and clear waters of the Nisqually Estuary enjoy protection as one of the five State Aquatic Preserves and one of six Shorelines of Statewide Significance.
This area is a paradise for many species, including the people who live or visit here. An abundance of wildlife is visible from the deck outside your guest room or from many comfortable sitting areas inside and outside the inn. Your innkeepers provide a telescope downstairs and binoculars in your room for enhanced viewing. Stroll down a gentle nature trail to our 900-foot private beach and from there, by foot or by kayak, roam the natural beauty and wildlife of the Nisqually Estuary.
Click the Nature Lovers’ Photo Gallery to preview wildlife you might expect to see here. Birders will enjoy raptors, herons, resident and migratory waterfowl, Cormorants and many songbirds. Mallard Cove’s forest is home to a great variety of upland birds, including Pileated Woodpeckers, Steller’s Jays and Goldfinches. Belted Kingfishers dive from the trees on our shoreline.
You may encounter our resident deer on your way down the driveway. The “Twins,” yearlings now, are often seen taste-testing the roses in our gardens on their way to and from the beach. Squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional raccoon vie for seeds scattered under bird feeders. In the early morning, rabbits munch on clover in our grass. On a sunrise kayak paddle, you may see a red fox frolicking with her kit on the beach.
At ebb tide, you may see harbor seals fishing for a meal right in front of the inn. Your innkeepers can guide you to their favorite place from which to view harbor seal pups and their mothers sunning at the nearby wildlife refuge. Although rare in our immediate area, porpoises and Orca whales are sighted once or twice per year.
Kayaking is one of our favorite ways to see wildlife, and the most popular destination is the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, which is only a fifteen-minute paddle from the inn. From a kayak, you can get a close-up view of nature and wildlife that land-based people only see through binoculars. Three kayaks are available, free to registered guests. If you are a novice kayaker, don’t worry! These are some of the calmest waters in Puget Sound. See the “Things to Do” page for more information on kayaking.
You may also visit the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge by land; it’s just a short drive from the inn. Development and overpopulation will never encroach on this beautiful place, thanks to the actions of local citizens and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. The entire area has been reserved for local and migratory waterfowl, raptors and sea life who call this home, or who stop en route to or from their annual migrations. You will find an interesting network of easy-to-walk trails, which afford a close-up view of plants, birds and other wildlife. Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center first. They will tell you where to find any recently reported wildlife sightings and will also loan you a set of binoculars.
Equally popular for nature lovers is a walk, jog or drive to the Nisqually Reach Nature Center to learn about the Nisqually estuary from local experts. It is 1.2 miles from the inn. You will find tidal-fed saltwater aquariums with sea life from the Nisqually Estuary and exhibits to help you identify shorebirds and migratory waterfowl. A pier provides fantastic views of the estuary and, if the weather permits, a great view of majestic Mount Rainier and its glaciers. Check with your innkeepers for a map and hours of operation.
Wolf Haven International is a sanctuary for wolves located in Tenino, Washington approximately 35 minutes from the inn. Guided walking tours are available on weekends. Animal lovers may also enjoy a visit to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, WA, which features walking tours and tram tours of animal exhibits on more than 700 acres. Northwest Trek is located approximately 50 minutes from the inn.