Quick Hike up Oyster Dome

Thursday, August 28

  Had to get some regularly scheduled maintenance done on my Tacoma, so why not get it done in Burlington (waaay less busy than Seattle Toyota dealerships) and knock out a quick afternoon hike?  I heard about this hike from a friend who really recommended it for some great views of Puget Sound and it’s similar in difficulty with Lake Serene/Bridal Falls, which is another excellent hike near Seattle.  

  Followed the google maps directions to the trailhead, good thing the map is accurate because you can blink and you’ll miss it:

Blink and you'll miss the trailhead!  It's right before the oyster bar/steakhouse.
Blink and you’ll miss the trailhead!  It’s right before the oyster bar/steakhouse.

Parked on the side of the road, showed my Discover Pass, and geared up.  For today’s hike I carried the bare minimum:  my daypack, a water bottle, compass, first aid kit, headlamp, towel, and a rain jacket.  Total setup is definitely less than 10 lbs, which is really light for me…I usually carry a 2L Camelbak, an additional 2L of frozen water, 2-4 cans of beer and a soft cooler in addition to this loadout.  As a result, I was able to make some amazing time to the top – averaged over 3 miles an hour on some pretty steep terrain.  The hike was a nice steady climb for the first mile until the first overlook, which offered a nice preview of things to come and a great little wooden bench for you to catch your breath.  I ran right past it, knowing the end would be much more scenic.  The trail flattened out after the first mile and then got really steep and rooty after another half mile.  

My friend told me that there were also some lakes just off of the trail.  However, I asked some backpackers about them on the way up and they said they weren’t really worth it…not very scenic and kind of marshy.  I decided I’ve seen better lakes and chose to press right for the peak.  The trail junction is a little tough to see:

Oyster Dome to the left, Lizard and Lilly Lakes to the right.
Oyster Dome to the left, Lizard and Lilly Lakes to the right.

I got to the top (3.25 miles, ~1900′ elevation gain) in about an hour and 15 minutes, passing several groups on the way and avoiding some bad intel from a group of teenage hikers who were going the wrong way.  Lucky I had plenty of cell service and could check the route information from the Washington Trails Association.  This is about the fastest I could go without going lighter and just trail running it.  

On a summer Thursday afternoon, only two other groups were there (about 6 people) at the top.  The view was pretty great:

The view from the top of Oyster Dome
The view from the top of Oyster Dome

There are two openings with views at the top: one on the right and one on the left.  The one on the left offered two additional boulders for some privacy.  Of these two boulders, the one on the right can be scrambled onto (or like two V0 bouldering moves)…so that’s the one I chose.  Enjoyed a quiet moment there listening to my iPhone before running back down.

Note:  When I hiked this there was just a ton of used tissue paper/paper towels on these side trails just off of the peak…really gross, please pack it out, people! 

The run back down to the parking lot took me about 45 minutes, with a mix of walking and running.  Because the trail is so clean, you can really get some speed going here!

I don’t think I will be coming back to this hike anytime soon – it’s a bit of a drive from Seattle and the payoff isn’t until the end.  I prefer hikes with a little more payoff interspersed throughout the hike, but this is a fun run with a lot of tree cover.

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