Oyster Dome, Mt. Baker National Forest-Snoqualmie Trip Report
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June 12, 2004
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John is an avid hiker, spending a goodly portion of his time up in the hills, or sitting in front of a computer. Either way, most of what finds his eye is green, or blue, - organic, or lcd. John likes this website, hopes you do too, and invites you to write a review of a couple hikes you've done!
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I live in Federal Way, WA and I enjoy getting out into the great outdoors and hiking and would someday like to make it to the top of Mt. Rainier. When I can't get outside, I'm the IS manager at a marketing firm in Kent.
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Driving Directions: From Seattle, drive north on I-5, take the Larrabee State Park/Chuckanut Drive exit. Drive 10 miles on Chuckanut Drive (state Route 11). The trailhead is about 30 Seconds pastChuckanut Manor Inn. The trailhead is on the uphill side of the road and is not very noticable. Look for parked cars, and remember if you went more than a minute past Chuckanut Manor you have gone too far.
Trail Notes: The Oyster Dome hike lies to the west of the beginning of the Pacific Nortwest Trail. Don't ask me how one goes west from the trail head without a boat or wings! The trail itself starts off pretty steep wasting no time going up. The trail moves through a series of switch backs which are pretty wide as Northwest trails go. The grade eases a bit after about 20 minutes, and though the trail continues to gain elevation there are also fairly frequent flat parts of the trail to. The forest cover is a mix of decidious and connifers; the understory made up of lots of Sword Ferns and salal. It should be said that as hiking trails go this trail gains and loses quite a bit of elevation along the way, so the real vertical is probably 1/3 more than topographic numbers indicate. Keep it in mind!
After about a half an hour the air takes on a mystical sort of feel. The trail continues on up for about 40 minutes or so, with fairly decent, if somewhat obstructed views of Samish Bay and Anacortes. Really makes the uphill climb seem to go by more easily!
About this time you will see a spur trail going off to the North in one of the switchbacks corners. As fate would have it we missed this turn off. How you ask? Well there was a couple with a dog, which apparently captured our attention fairly completely. Seems you need not leash you dog on this trail. In any event we continued up the trail another 20 minutes or so and found ourselves on what appears to be a forest service road. Surprise, and there were cars...and people...and hanggliders...and horses here? Hadn't expect this for sure. We spent a while here trying to figure out the way to Oyster Dome, eventually finding one of the hanggliders who knew the way.
So we returned down the trail, found the spur and were off towards what we conjectured was Oyster Dome from where the hangliders were hanging out. The spur to Oyster Dome starts off very nice mostly a traverse with a couple short uphills. As you progress along getting closer to Oyster Dome the trail continually steepens, until it is downright nasty. About 25% of the way up this one passes another spur to the Bat Caves (formerly occupied by bats). We continued up and ultimatly arrived at a junction with another trail. From here you go North across the largest stream you are likely to cross, though no chance of getting your feet wet here. Then the trail becomes a easier though still decidedly uphill. When you arrive at the area where understory is completely gone you will almost be there. At this point the trail seems to disolve into nothingness. Just bear to the left and you will emerge at one of the overlooks on top of the Oyster Dome. I think the most Northerly of the outcrops is nicest.
From here you can see just darn near everything, though the view to the South over Skagit valley is obstructed. If you want the valley view you might consider hiking to the forest service road. If one was out of shape or whatever it would be possible to drive to where the hangliders were and shorten the trip a bit.
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Great Workout Hike
Reviewed By: Ken W. on Sunday, August 10, 2008 @ 07:51:31 AM
This is a great hike for a spur-of-moment get away. A moderate half-day hike that can you can do after the chores are done. Bring water cause you'll need it, especially on warm sunny days. Bring a camera, cause you'll definitely want pics of the expansive views along the way. Bring your thermos of coffee (or Cocoa) for the suset view at the top.
carolinagirl May 2008
Reviewed By: Anonymous on Saturday, May 24, 2008 @ 06:25:57 PM
HIked with my six year old all the way up to Oyster Dome! What a trooper! Quite steep in some places, lots of ups and downs..about mid-way a nice view from a place to sit on a bench! Also crossed several creeks.
We made it up and down in about 4 hours...but I was hiking with my six yr old daughter!
We shared lunch with two adorable chipmunks on the rock outlook at the top!
Oyster Dome in March
Reviewed By: D. Kenoyer on Saturday, March 22, 2008 @ 08:39:46 PM
Great hike today ! With snow so low it will might September before anything else opens in the hills this Costal hike was a welcome treat. Trails good, view good, lots and lots of floks out early to strech the legs. Highky recommended for that hiking spring fever. You can see directions in the other posts. This is agem this time of year.
Reviewed By: carol on Monday, June 19, 2006 @ 06:22:41 PM
I hiked Oyster Dome yesterday and it is a really nice hike. The trail is in good condition, although lots of bugs! It is steep but the view at the top is worthwhile. It's such a different view from your typical 'lake hike' or a mountain top view. From up there you can see the world it seems like. The hike took 1.5 hours up and 1 hour and 5 minutes down. Highly recommended.
Reviewed By: Treadlightly on Sunday, April 17, 2005 @ 10:28:46 PM
Review: Weather cooperated for us on this hike. Started around 1 o'clock. Cloudy, but they were high enough that they didn't cloud out the top. Starts out steep, then lots of little ups and downs. A few places with exposed tree roots, rocks, and small creek crossings. Made the trail interesting, I had fun with it. View from the top were awsome. Rocks can be a little slippery, damp moss in places. I kept my distance from the edge. Nice clear day. Pretty cold and windy away from the trees. Had to throw a few layers on while eating my lunch. It'd be helpful to bring a map or something to reference from. Easy to follow but a few intersections with other trails. Good elevation gain without snow! I didn't take the side trip to the bat caves today, but I hope to be back.
Steep & Rocky
Reviewed By: Go4Hike on Sunday, April 17, 2005 @ 06:36:42 PM
Review: Watch carefully to see the trailhead from the road, it's a small brown sign on a tree marked "PNW Trail". From there the trail continues on, with signs along the way marking the various trails along the way, there are many connections (reminds me a bit of Tiger Mountain). The weather alternated between hail storms and sun breaks as we made the hike up, the trail was steep & rocky in several areas and we knew from the weather that it might be a little slick on the return trip. The views at the top were mostly unseen because of low clouds on this day, thought they did clear long enough to briefly see the views & the Oyster Beds below in the water. The wind was biting cold up at the top, make sure you have your jacket & gloves with you.
This was a middle of the week hike for us, and started around 9:00 am. We saw only one other person on the trail on the way up, a bicyclist carrying his bike up the muddy trail. Then just as we returned back to the trailhead at the end of the hike, a noisy group of college kids were just starting up the trail.
We were glad to have our trekking poles on the descent, indeed it was slick on the rocks & somewhat difficult to manueuver, making the descent take a bit longer than expected.
I would do this hike again, though would try to choose a day where the weather was cooperating a bit better. You can't really go wrong along Chuckanut drive, it's beautiful to begin with!
Oyster Dome In March
Reviewed By: archana on Monday, March 14, 2005 @ 08:39:22 AM
Review: agree with the review above.
fantastic hike to do on sunny, clear days as the views are beautiful
2 hours up, 1.5 down (also did not do lily lake or bat caves)
Oyster Dome in February
Reviewed By: jim on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 @ 04:24:47 PM
Review: What a way to spend a sunny Wednesday afternoon knowing that all of my coworkers are slaving away back at the office. A spontaneous vacation day was just the ticket for getting away for a quick day hike and recharging the ol' batteries. It took a little over an hour to drive from north Seattle to the trailhead. Don't blink as you're driving north on Chuckanut as you may miss the wide spot on the left side of the road which is used for parking. There's a strip of shoulder space which will accomodate around 10 or so cars. Also notice the broken glass on the side of the road ... curiously enough in about 10 piles spaced evenly along the shoulder. Obviously some idiot thief had a field day hitting every parked car. Translation ... don't leave anything of value in your car.
The hike starts out fairly steep so stretch out ahead of time. The trail is for the most part in the trees with very little exposure to direct sun until you get to the oyster dome at the top. We hiked on Feb 23rd and the trail was in great shape. Almost zero mud ... and this early in the year meant zero flies/gnats too ... woo hooooo. We were hiking really slow thanks to my sloth-like calf-injured friend, but made it to the dome in 2 hours. We took the same route down and were back at the car in 1.5 hours. Note: We didn't do the side trips to the bat caves and Lily Lake so doing that will obviously add to the trip time.
Enjoy your hike.
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