Bellingham’s Best Hike: Blanchard Hill, Bat Caves and Oyster Dome

I’m a big fan of hiking. I don’t do it nearly as often as I would like to, but such is life.  My personal favorite hiking area is Blanchard Hill. It’s got it all: Views, lakes, forested sections and open areas. More variety than any other hike I’ve found.  Located on Chuckanut Mountain, (south of Bellingham between I-5 and Chuckanut Drive) Blanchard Hill is one of the area’s most beautiful natural landscapes and offers some of the best hikes and views around.  With several trails, Blanchard Hill offers hikes ranging from relaxing and quiet to slightly grueling.

There are multiple trails and access points, depending on the level of distance and difficulty you are looking for. It is possible to hike from the bottom, via Chuckanut Drive, or drive to a lookout about halfway up, then continue to the peak from there. There are a couple of small lakes (Lily and Lizard) along the way, depending on which trails you take.

From the parking area, the trail (part of the famous Pacific Northwest Trail) winds up toward a series of bat caves, and then up to the top, known as Oyster Dome. The views from Oyster Dome are unparalleled. Be warned, it’s a tough hike, but worth every sweaty step. The reviews I’d read before my first attempt sounded daunting, but it wasn’t too bad. My 11 year-old daughter made it up just fine… She also had no problem sitting right up near the edge at the top. I, however, clung to a nearby tree and occasionally peaked over the side. What can I say, I’m afraid of heights and I love to hike. I’m also afraid of water but love being on boats. To each their own, as they say…

For more information on Chackanut mountain and Blanchard hill, click here to see a map of the area.  To get to the Samish overlook parking area ,take I-5 to the Alger Exit #240,  head west on Lake Samish Road. Take the first Left onto Barrel Springs Road and follow it for 3/4 of a mile until you see a large gravel road  and a sign that says “Blanchard Hill trail system” Follow that road up the hill. It takes about 20 minutes, or so. You’ll pass some parking lots that access trails. Keep heading up. For your first time, your best bet is to go with someone who’s been there before. It’s pretty confusing- one of those places I know how to get to, but have difficulty describing. It’s definitely worth it, though!

Be sure to check out Bellingham’s Backcountry Essentials for hiking gear and micro-brews!

This post simultaneously published by Rob LeRoy at theRealEstateNovelist.com

Rob LeRoy is a Seattle real estate agent and social media marketing coach with eXp Realty.

4 Responses to “Bellingham’s Best Hike: Blanchard Hill, Bat Caves and Oyster Dome”

  1. Dalek November 3, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    That hike totally rocks. Made me whine like a little girl the first time up to the dome. The views are breathtaking! Great post Rob…keep'em coming!

  2. Josh Henry November 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    Oyster Dome is a wonderful weekend Hike!As a 4th generation I grew up hiking here! I have actually seen a bat in the bat caves, although it is a rare occasion. One of the reasons Oyster Dome is my favorite Hike is the accessibility of the hike just about 10 months out of the year. The views are incredible so bring a pick nick lunch. There are two ways to get to the top. The hard way from Chuckanut and the easy way is from driving up Blanchard mountain.Cheers,Josh Henry

  3. MichaelEyes November 5, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    When I lived in Alger that trail was in my backyard and I used to hike up to the Oyster Dome a lot, on what we called “the incline trail”. The trail is fairly steep, there are also gentler slopes up as the horse trail, I rode a mountain bike up that one before. Thanks for the memories,

  4. MichaelEyes November 5, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    When I lived in Alger that trail was in my backyard and I used to hike up to the Oyster Dome a lot, on what we called “the incline trail”. The trail is fairly steep, there are also gentler slopes up as the horse trail, I rode a mountain bike up that one before. Thanks for the memories,

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