A short but steep backdoor connector trail on the lower east side of Chuckanut Mountain, the Alternate Incline offers access to Lily and Lizard Lakes, North Butte, Oyster Dome and even the Pacific Northwest Trail from the spacious Blanchard Hill upper trailhead parking lot.
Starting at the gate at the end of the parking lot, you walk a gentle mile on the B-1000 gravel road lined with thimbleberry and blackberry as it skirts the slope of Blanchard Hill. A viewpoint a half mile in gives views to the right across the valley and on a clear day Mount Baker is visible.
At one mile, there is a trailhead sign on the right and the Alternate Incline begins its steep ascent on the fall line that was once the route of an old steam donkey. A gully to your left holds an outlet stream from Lily Lake but access is limited until you are close to the lake.
You will soon be working up a sweat as you chug up a little more than 700 feet in 1.1 miles through this second generation forest filled with 80 year old cedar and fir. Keep an eye out for the stumps of old growth timber with their lichen patina and step etched facial expressions.
Just before you reach the junction with Lizard Lake Trail, you will level out briefly on the contour line. Watch the ferns and undergrowth for rusty railroad artifacts discarded long ago by the Samish Bay Logging Company but unearthed with the addition of turnpikes that fend off constant mud puddles.
From the junction at 1890 feet and 2.1 miles from your car, you can go straight a short distance to Lily Lake along the British Army Trail and beyond to North Butte or turn left on an old logging bed bound for Lizard Lake and Oyster Dome. The adventure is yours!