Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsMinor obstacles posing few problems
RoadRoad suitable for all vehicles
The Oyster Dome trail is kind of like Bellingham's version of Mount Si. It is a moderately steep forested hike to a nice view point. It is very popular on a nice weekend day. The trailhead is 1:25 from Bellevue. I decided to make a lollypop loop using the Pacific Northwest trail on the way up and then the Samish Trail on the way back. This makes the trip longer, but anything for a loop. The trailhead is at mile 10 on Chuckanut Drive. There is a school bus sign next to the trail. Parking is along the very narrow shoulder. The official trail sign is a few hundred feet up the trail and it has a nice map. The first mile traverses nice forest with some handsome fire scarred old growth trees along the way. The rest of the hike is somewhat uninteresting 2nd and 3rd growth forest with lots of stumps with springboard notches. At 1.6 mi I turned right on the Samish Overlook trail (Pacific NW Trail). At 2.2 miles you come to the Samish Overlook parking lot. The view point appears to be a hang glider port with views south to the Skagit delta and Mt Rainier in the distance. The continuation of the PNWT is officially closed due to logging activity. Being Sunday,I ignored the sign and continued on. The logged area is at 2.6 mi. Shame on DNR for allowing this logging to occur right on a popular trail. What the heck were they thinking. It looks terrible. It reminds me of a Reagan era debacle. The marked Lily Lake trail is at 4.7 mi. A short trail takes you to this pleasant but unremarkable little lake. The unmarked turnoff for the Oyster Dome is at 5.5 miles. The Dome viewpoint is at 5.7 mi. There is a several hundred foot rocky cliff that affords a wide view to the southwest. The Olympic mountains, Anacortes ,and the San Juan Islands are all visible. I returned on the popular Samish Bay trail. 0.3 mi from the Oyster Dome turn off is the unmarked Bat Cave trail. In 50 feet it crosses a creek and in about 0.2 mile you come to an area of jumbled boulders at the base of the Oyster Dome. I found several shallow caves but didn't stumble on anything big enough to explore. The boulders this time of year are very slippery and slimy. Not good for scrambling. It is like walking on a sheet of ice. There are some nice view up the Oyster Dome cliffs. The shorter return route on the Samish Bay trail is steep and fairly muddy in places. The loop is 9.3 mi and 2000 feet elevation gain. The Samish Bay trail section was very crowed and there were lots of dogs. If I did it again, I would do the loop clockwise so that I could avoid descending the Samish Bay trail in the afternoon when the throngs are ascending. Overall a nice winter hike. I'd give it 3/5 stars.