5.9 mi rt
gain: 787 ft
max: 2077 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: Blanchard
I live in the land of lumps: Blanchard, Chuckanut, Stewart, Anderson, Lyman, Sumas, etc. Dave Tucker has some great information about them on his site, Northwest Geology Fieldtrips.
I usually come up Blanchard in the winter and if there is snow, even better! This is an extremely popular hike but most start out down on Chuckanut Drive and hike up two miles of switchbacks before they hit the trail that will start to take them up to Oyster Dome. I like to park at the Samish Overlook and hike the loop instead.
The Samish Overlook is on DNR land and has a history of being the jump off point for hang-gliders. About two years back DNR got all fancy and put in a proper parking lot with toilets. To get to this parking (N48 36.595 W122 25.577) take the alger exit off of I5 and head west-ish to Barrel Springs Road, maybe a half a mile from the freeway. Turn left (it is your only option) and in under a mile you will see a signed gravel road on the right. Take it, it is the gateway to fun! To get to the overlook, Follow the road past the first parking area to the gate on the left (you will pass one minor road, ignore it). This gate is only open during daylight hours so don’t be like me and make the rangers leave reminders on the windshield that you are suppose to be out by one hour after dusk. By the by, the overlook is a kick ass place to watch the sunset!
At the end of this road is the overlook. They recently did a little logging but they were careful to leave the trails intact and my loop trail only passes through about a quarter mile of the logged area.
For the loop, I headed on the west side of the trail that goes directly to Oyster Dome. There is a slight loss of elevation but in about 1.5 mi the trail gains all of its elevation…which really isn’t that much. The trail use to be pretty gnarly going straight up but over the last couple of years WTA put in some switchbacks so it is quite mellow now.
A few hundred feet from the cut off to the Dome, I met two men coming down, one who hiked the pct this year. Hey Scout (Scout is his trail name) from the class of 2015, it was great to meet you and to talk for what probably seemed to your friend a long time. I hope to see him on the trails again in the near future.
The last 0.3 mi up to the dome definitely gains some elevation but it is short so not too bad…one foot in front of the other. The view from the top is what Dave and Stacie and I call a Bandara kind of day, they will know what that means. Here, for the rest of you:
After about two seconds up top I headed back down to the junction only instead of going back the way I came I headed over to Lily Lake and then out via Max’s Shortcut. I actually prefer Max’s approach than the way I came in and will often do an out and back on just Max’s instead of the loop.
Lily Lake was wonderful and snowy and icy.
There is a whole bunch of new signage all over on the trails up here, you would have to work real hard to get lost these days. Ah, the good old days when you just investigated the trails and discovered new places ( ;