Oyster Dome. Credit: Peter Stevens/Flickr CC
Peak-bagger hike: Oyster Dome
Where: Find Oyster Dome north of the town of Burlington, Wash., about a 90-minute drive north of the Seattle area.
Stats: 6.5 miles round trip; 1,900-foot elevation gain; Discover Pass required to park
Kids will love... spotting the islands, peaks, inlets and peninsulas visible from the summit on a clear day. Bring a map to confirm their guesses.
Ascend a mountain in air that smells like the ocean; Mount Blanchard is the only Cascade peak that rises directly from the Salish Sea. Most of the mountain (atop which Oyster Dome sits) has been protected for nearly a century, but you’ll still spot huge stumps and snags of the ancient forest that once was. The top of Oyster Dome is small, so arrive early in the day if you want to avoid crowds.
Getting there: From Interstate 5, take exit 240 and head west on Lake Samish Road. Then, take the first left and travel 0.6 mile down Barrel Springs Road. You’ll see a sign reading Blanchard Forest Block. Turn right (onto a dirt road) and travel 1.7 miles until you see the sign for the Samish Overlook. Take a left and pass through a yellow gate. Drive 2.2 miles to the Samish Overlook Day Use Area. Editor’s note: The road to Samish Overlook is closed until Feb. 1, 2023. This trail can still be accessed via the Blanchard Upper and Lower trailheads.
More hikes like this: If your kids just want to bag a peak and don’t mind sharing the trail with dozens of other hikers, climb the well-maintained switchbacks that gain 1,160 feet in elevation to the top of Rattlesnake Ledge near North Bend. While you can drive to the top of Moran State Park’s Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, it’s more satisfying to reach the summit of the highest point on the San Juan Islands on foot.
Next stop: an island hike
Image credit: Peter Stevens/Flickr CC