For my 28th birthday, I was determined to spend the day in the outdoors, hiking. Given the friendless-in-Seattle and covid situations as well as my hiking hobby, it seemed like a natural choice. Since my birthday was on a Friday, I took the day off work to enjoy a three-day weekend.
And then, the forecast predicted the worst winter storm the Seattle area has seen in years. It was supposed to start Thursday and continue through Sunday. While we did get a bit of a dusting Thursday, the weather stayed clear enough for us to head out for a Friday adventure! Our options were limited by the storm, though. I landed on Oyster Dome because it’s a lowland hike I’ve been wanting to do, but on a day where the weather wasn’t safe in the higher mountains. It was a great choice!
Oyster Dome Trail Review
- Hiked: mid-February
- Distance from Seattle: 1.5 hours
- Accessibility: Paved highway, and then several miles on a gravel road to the trailhead
- Length: 5 miles round trip
- Difficulty: 2/10
- Crowds: 7/10
- Trail views: 5/10
- Water features: 6/10
- Overall: 6/10
The gravel road from the highway is actually not too bad. We were able to avoid the potholes easily in our small-ish car. While there was no snow on the road at the time we went, there was a bit of ice built up on the edges of the road in a few areas, so I’m guessing it could become snowy and/or icy during the winter, so be sure to read up on current weather and road conditions. I always like to read the most recent trail reviews on AllTrails and also Washington Trails Association before heading out. And be sure to leave your own reviews, especially with regards to road and trail conditions, after your hike!
The trail parking lot requires a Discover Pass, which you can purchase for a day for $10 or for a year for $30. There were plenty of spaces available when we arrived around 10:30 am on a Friday in February…but it was really cold, so it could easily be full in nicer weather! There were toilets open at the parking lot, too, which were stocked with toilet paper.
The views start right in the parking lot, which is at the Samish Overlook area. You can see the San Juan islands, which look like they’re very close, and lovely water views.
From there, the trail heads into the forest. It’s well-signed and easy to follow the entire way. The first part of the hike is through a thinner forest area, and you’re able to continue catching glimpses of the water on your lefthand side as you continue along the trail. The trail is overall fairly gentle in terms of incline until the last bit, which is switchbacks up to the top. Even then, it’s not too challenging.
We enjoyed a couple of water crossings on the trail. Though there was no snow, there was quite a bit of ice on and around the trail (not enough to merit microspikes though–we were fine in just our boots), and some amazing icicles, both in the small streams and on some large boulders. There are also a lot of downed trees and brush all throughout the area the trail passes through. The whole region was apparently a logging area previously.
The trail was really cold–I hiked with four layers on, something I’ve never done before. It was about 25 degrees and I felt it! The icicles were further proof of just how chilly it was.
We reached the top of the dome a bit warmer because of the final switchbacks of the trail. Which was great, because you get cold pretty fast as soon as you stop moving. We didn’t hang around for too long appreciating the views simply because we got uncomfortably cold.
After enjoying some Extra Toasty Cheezits, we headed back down the trail. I usually pack a real lunch for our hikes (like bean salad or fried rice) but I hadn’t had the time to do that the night before we left. Also, since it was my birthday, I thought it would be nice to go out to eat! So we planned to go to Bellingham for a quick lunch after our hike.
We went to Cafe Rumba to try out their food. It’s a Peruvian sandwich shop. I was most excited about their ají amarillo, a yellow spicy sauce. It was very tasty on the sandwich and potatoes that came with it.
The Bellingham detour added about 30 minutes total to our drive time, but I was glad to have had a nice, real lunch before we returned home. It was great to support a small local business while we were at it, too!
I’m thinking we will have to return to the Oyster Dome/Samish Overlook area in the spring or summer at some point, but I’m glad the winter storm held out long enough for us to be able to take a birthday excursion here!