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Climb to great views of the sound
An exposed hunk of sheer cliff on Blanchard Mountain, Oyster Dome is an intriguing and scenic natural landmark. Its base is littered with jumbled boulders, talus fields, and bat-breeding caves. And from atop, views abound of the Sound, mountains, and a smorgasbord of islands. A popular hiking destination year-round, Oyster Dome is the pearl of the Chuckanut Mountains. With limited parking in the pull-outs along the road, you'll want to arrive early on weekends to find a spot to park.
The hike begins on the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 1200-mile long-distance trail-in-the-making from the Olympic Coast to Montana's Glacier National Park. There's a cool little stone marking the trail at the start. There is no mystery to this hike as you begin climbing immediately away from the road through the dense forest.
In about 1 mile reach a small ledge with big views out to the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains. There's even a bench for you to stop and soak in the view. In another 0.5 mile reach a signed junction (elev. 1100 ft). Head left on the Samish Bay Connection Trail (follow the sign for Lilly Lake) if you want to go straight to the dome. Or if you prefer a short detail, head right for 0.5 miles to nice and recently renovated viewpoint complete with restrooms and nice bench. This is also the end of the 5 mile Blanchard Hill Trail road. This is popular launching point for hang gliders. After you soak in the views, head back the way to came to previous junction, keeping to the right to continue the climb to Oyster Dome.
During this next stretch the grade steepens as you make your way toward the top. After one particularly long, steep climb you come to another junction. Head left on the Rock Trail. Pass rusty old cable and other logging relics. Cross a small creek, then make one final push, breaking out of the forest onto the rim of the open promontory. Be careful. Keep children and dogs nearby. Spread out before you are the San Juan Islands, Fildalgo Island, Whidbey Island, Vancouver Island, the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, the Skagit River flats and a whole lot of saltwater.
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