Oyster Dome

Oyster Dome

Elev. Gain: 
2,000 ft.
High: 
2,050 ft.
Where:
Bellingham, WA
Distance: 
6.25 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: 
Strenuous
Rating: 
4
Gorgeous views. Can be crowded.
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Features

Overview

You want payoff? Oyster Dome is full of it. This classic trail takes you from sea level to a stunning lookout 2,075 feet above with 180 degree views of the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, and Olympic Mountains. For the more adventurous, there's also the optional side trip to a talus of diorite boulders affectionately known as the Bat Caves.

We love this hike and it's well worth the drive to experience the majesty of Blanchard Mountain's finest view-offering. It's one of only a few well-documented hikes in Bellingham, so expect company en-route on sunny weekends.

(Note that there is a shortcut trail to Oyster Dome from the Samish Overlook parking lot near Alger, but this description is the full hike from water to summit.)

Begin right along the side of Chuckanut Drive and head uphill on the Pacific Northwest Trail through a thin forest of doug firs. In a mile you'll hit your first viewpoint. Rest up and push on. At 1.8 miles the trail forks and you'll want to follow the signs to the left onward to Oyster Dome. Cross a few streams and then hit another intersection in about a half-mile – this time go right.

After climbing steadily for nearly three miles, the trail once again splits; this time with a short trail that leads to the infamous Bat Caves. The perspective gained as you look up in wonder at the 200' tall face of Oyster Dome is worth the quick jaunt across the stream (makeshift bridges come and go, so be careful crossing), and those who want a little more action can feel free to explore the jumble of blocks that create a dark, cave-like environment that are home to – you guessed it – a rare species of bats. Be sure to bring lights and appropriate clothing to avoid getting scraped up or seriously injured.

Back on the main trail, climb steeply for 0.10 mile and then make a left when the trail splits (good chance this won't be signed). A little further and you're there. A giant and glacially polished diorite slab gives you plenty of room to find your own spot to stretch out and enjoy the views. Be careful though, the drop off is sudden and deadly.

Permits & Tips

Discover Pass required. No water or toilets at trailhead. Do not leave valuables in your car. Use extreme caution at both the Bat Caves and the top of Oyster Dome. The trail can be very muddy after heavy rain.

>>Google Directions

How to get there

Head north on I-5 to exit 231. Follow State Route 11 (Chuckanut Drive) north for 10.2 miles.
The trailhead is on the right side of the road just after passing milepost 10.
Park along the left (west) shoulder of the highway.