They say that the journey is better than the destination. They lied.
Reaching the peak of the Oyster Dome and peering out across vast blue Samish Bay, I can say with absolute confidence that exact moment was infinitely more thrilling than the preceding journey I’d experienced – 90 minutes of uphill
Welcome to the Oyster Dome.
This post should really be titled “the pain of backing up a house party and beer festival with a strenuous hike”. I’d had a pretty indulgent weekend thus far, and I’m not really sure what possessed me to suggest this particular hike on this sunny September Sunday morning. Or how I’d coerced Tom into joining me (all questions I asked myself several times while trudging up the trail).
One of the most popular hikes in the Chuckanut Mountains area, the Oyster Dome trail winds up the south side of Blanchard Mountain. The initial section of the hike is part of the famous Pacific Northwest Trail, a 1200 mile route that runs from Washington’s Olympic Coast to Montana’s Glacier National Park.
A 6.5 mile round trip with more than 2000ft elevation gain. Let’s just say you can skip leg day this week.
The trail begins with a steep ascent from Chuckanut Drive, a great indicator of things to come. Immediately, the path switchbacks steeply through second-growth alder, western red cedar, and Douglas fir forest. Pretty, but exhausting.
About one mile in was a small clearing in the trail, and I was rewarded with a glimpse of the scenery to come. That view was enough inspiration to keep going.
After a few small creek crossings, plenty more switchbacks, a touch of rock scrambling and plenty of calories burned, we made it to the top. Emerging from the trees, we found ourselves atop the exposed, rocky promontory known as the Oyster Dome.
Our arrival unveiled spectacular views of Samish Bay, the Puget Sound, and San Juan Islands. The day was so clear we could see as far as the Olympic Mountains to the south!
Beautiful and certainly breathtaking.
After stopping a while to take it all in (and catch my breath), back down the mountain we went!
Next up: recuperating sore muscles at Chuckanut Manor, only a few minutes drive from the trail’s end. A waterfront deck wrapped in sunshine was the perfect antidote for aching legs.
It would be impossible not to relax with views this good, and food this good. We tucked into fresh Samish Bay oysters, cornbread with jalapeno butter and halibut tacos, washed down with locally brewed IPA.
Beautiful cedar forests, picture-perfect coastal views and post-hike beer and seafood.
Fine, I’ll admit it, maybe it’s also the journey.
Want to hike the Oyster Dome? Check out Washington Trails for the most up to date info about this hike!
Want to hike in Washington but not sure what’s nearby? Find Trails is a great resource for planning the best hikes close to you.
More from Live Recklessly: Hiking the Thornton Lakes Trail from Trappers Peak, Camping and Hiking in North Cascades National Park, Into the Mist on Sauk Mountain, Best sights and hikes in Deception Pass State Park.