Oyster Dome is a trail I have heard of many times when I went to university up in Bellingham, Washington, but had not been on myself. It’s a decent hike at 6.5 miles roundtrip and a total elevation gain of 1900 feet. It’s along the scenic Chuckanut Trail that runs along the ocean.
There are not many people there early in the morning as the sun was still rising on the warm day. The sun is coming through the tall, skinny trees, casting rays of light on the trail. The trailhead is right off the road and is simply marked with “PNW trail.” It starts with a series of switch backs as you ascend up the trail, which had my quads burning in no time.
The middle of trail is a mixture of flat surfaces and smaller hills. Several small creeks run across the path, the water reflecting in the sun. A mile in, a viewpoint shows a peak of the ocean. Because it’s still early in the morning, fog completely engulfs the islands like a hungry lion. I hope that by the time I get to the top, it will have cleared to see a view I have been told is beautiful. I get to the point where the PNW trail ends and you can go to Oyster Dome or to Lily Lake. My goal for the day is Oyster Dome, but I make a mental note to come back and do Lily Lake next.
By the time I can see the top of the mountain, I am panting, out of breath, and my legs are burning. I trudge on a few minutes more, and finally see the ocean peaking through the trees. The view is absolutely stunning. The fog has cleared, and the San Juan Islands are visible. Many sailboats are out this day to celebrate the last few warm days of summer. A large mountain range can be seen in the far distance, which I recognize as Vancouver Island (part of Canada). It strikes me how amazing such a hike is where you can see a different country from the summit.
Going back is much easier, as I know the hardest part is over. I take my time to enjoy the changing colors of the leaves that have started. The creek is running very low due to the lack of rain Seattle has had lately. The hardest part of descending is my dog pulling me downhill over the rocks and tree stumps, impatient and not willing to observe nature besides excusing himself on the bushes.
Many hikers have started their ascent now that it’s closer to noon and cheerfully greet me as I pass them. Some fearfully ask “how much farther?,” which I assure not too much. I get back to my car, stretch out a little, and head to what has been on my mind for the past hour: a burger from Winn’s Drive-In in Bellingham, the best burger joint north of Seattle in my opinion. I also find a new brewery that lets dogs come in with their owners in downtown Bellingham and indulge in a beer before taking my very exhausted body back home towards Seattle.
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