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John Guilford's Hikes

Oyster Dome on 2014-05-24

Date: 2014-05-24

Location: Oyster Dome

People: (including myself): Pam

			  	Alt.	Miles
Trailhead:		2:00	125	0
Trail Junction:		2:45	1100	1.8
Trail T:			1900	3.2
Oyster Dome:		3:40	2030	3.4
Leave Dome:		4:00
Trail Junction:		4:50	1100	5.0
Trailhead:		5:30	125	6.8
Oyster Dome is an exposed cliff of granite near the top of Blanchard Mountain in the CHuckanut Mountains south of Bellingham, WA.  These mountains fall into Puget Sound with the picturesque Chuckanut Drive/SR 11 winding along the coast.

[ PIX1 ] The trail starts just north of milepost 10 on Chuckanut Drive on the east side of the road.  Parking is on the shoulder of the west side of the road.  The trailhead is not very conspicuous, just the trail itself and a small sign labeled PNW TRAIL.  Even if we didn't have the directions to the trailhead, the lineup of cars across the road indicated that there was something there.

[ PIX4 ] [ PIX5 ] The start of the trail follows the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 1800 mile route (on roads, trails, and even a ferry) from the Continental Divide in Montana to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Alava on the Olympic coast.  The trail wastes no time immediately beginning a relentless switchback up the side of the hill.  The trail was in great shape, especially considering how many people use it.  Many of the people we saw brought their dogs with them.

At the end of the 4th switchback, at 1.8 miles, the trail reaches a junction.  The PNW trail goes to the right towards the Samish Overlook.  The left (straight) path is the Samish Bay Connection which leads to the Oyster Trail.

Shortly after the junction, the trail's pitch levels out a bit (still climbing almost all the time, but not as steeply) for a half mile or so.  At about 2-3/4 miles the trail starts climbing more steeply than before.  No switchbacks here, the trail just climbs up the hillside for about a half mile.

[ PIX2 ] [ PIX3 ] At the top of the steep section, the trail T's into another trail.  To the right is Lily Lake, to the left is the Oyster Dome.  There is a little bit more climbing to do, but the worst is behind you at this point.  Soon you find yourself at the rock outcropping that is the Oyster Dome with views to the west and south.  At the top of one section of cliff, I found some bolt hangers for climbers to top rope from.

The Dome was relatively crowded with people.  It is a popular hike, especially on Memorial Day weekend.  The weather had started off a bit overcast though gradually clearing as the afternoon progressed.  Most of the trail is in shade which would be very much appreciated on a hot, sunny day while ascending.

[ PIX6 ] We stayed about 20 minutes having some snacks before heading back down.  We set what we thought was a pretty good pace on the way back down but were surprised to find we were only about ten minutes faster coming down.  On the descent through the switchbacks above the road, the sun came out and we thoroughly enjoyed the greeness of the sloping forest around us.

Interestingly, for most of the ascent to the Dome, my GPS watch couldn't find satellites.  At the Dome it acquired them and recorded the descent all the way to Chuckanut Drive. 


[ PIX1 ] Trail map. 

[ PIX2 ] View looking over the cliff at the Oyster Dome

[ PIX3 ] View looking over Samish Bay towards Anacortes and Guemes and Cypress Islands. 

[ PIX4 ] Green Hillside. 

[ PIX5 ] Hillside with Pam

[ PIX6 ] Trail in nice condition. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 17:03:22 PDT 2015