We had beautiful gorgeous weather hiking up to Oyster Dome this past weekend. 70’s and sunny at the top, cool and covered through the forest trail getting up there. Definitely worth a visit.
But I don’t recommend going to Oyster Dome on a weekend. Long story short, it’s just too crowded. And this isn’t news to anyone who lives over here.
Still, it made for some great photos. Plus it was nice and windy when we came back down to Samish Outlook, which meant there were paragliders taking off over the water. I caught one guy in action and I’m pretty proud that my photos were actually in focus and not too poorly exposed. Huzzah!
Notes from our trip to Oyster Dome
Parking was rough at this trailhead, especially around 11am when we arrived. Get there early (7-8am) if you want to snag one of the 20 spots in the official parking lot on a weekend. Otherwise, you’ll need to park inline with the rest of the cars along the side of the road. A Discover Pass is required if you do park in the lot.
The road leading up to the trailhead was very bad. It was steep with lots of loose gravel, huge potholes, and dust clouds kicked up from other cars driving in. We were a bit nervous driving up in our little VW Golf, but we made it in one piece. Phew!
The hike starts off on the Pacific Northwest Trail for a small portion before you see official signs for Oyster Dome. This portion is thickly wooded with young growth trees. Their tall thin trunks jutting straight up into the sky.
Thick white blazes painted on tree trunks mark the PNT, a 1,200 mile scenic thru-hike that spans from Montana all the way west to the Pacific Ocean through Idaho and Washington. I’d learned about these white blazes from reading about the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and AT (Appalachian Trail) but hadn’t come across them in the wild before. They differ drastically from the ornate wood-carved or bright and blocky trail marketings we’ve come across on smaller routes.
Back on the trail
Not long after you start out along the PCT, you’ll see signs for Oyster Dome and Lily and Lizard lakes. Once you turn towards Oyster Dome, the switchbacks start. Peppered with huge mossy boulders and small shallow creeks, you’ll work your way up to the top. Waterproof boots were nice to have but not essential. This is one of those trails where you’re really just working to get to the top, there wasn’t so much to see along the way. That said, I did manage to photograph some tiny mushrooms adorning a mossy log, a colorful centipede racing across the path, and some strikingly red decomposing old wood.
Oyster Dome trail was a relatively easy hike. Though listed as 5 miles roundtrip, we only tracked 3.52 miles in and out with our GPS. This could have been because of the switchbacks, elevation gain or loss of service – I’m not sure, I wasn’t keeping a close eye on it. This wasn’t a very difficult trail, although the switchbacks near the end got pretty steep.
We had lunch up at the Dome, which is actually a collection of huge rocks overlooking a wide expanse of forest between Blanchard Mountain and the ocean. We took photos of idyllic seascape views of the San Juan islands and relaxed in the sun until it was time to head back down.
Blanchard Mountain at risk from logging
Back at the trailhead, we spoke to an older couple actively looking for help to protect Blanchard Mountain from logging. A budget vote could effectively remove 1,600 acres of forest on the mountain. I’m not going to go into the political details any deeper here, that’s really not the point of this blog. Read more of the story here.