Miles: 4 (6.8 for the whole trail)
Permits: Snow park pass required
Elevation gain: 150 ft
My hiking time: 2 hours 15 minutes
With a large winter storm headed in over the weekend it seemed the perfect day to get out and try snowshoeing for the first time. Wanting a nice easy intro to the sport, Courtney and I settled on Salmon Ridge, a fairly level well marked trail near Mount Baker. This way we could avoid route finding and avalanche danger on our first time out.
The trail begins from a large parking lot just past Hannegan pass road on the left side of highway 542. It meanders gently through the woods until it approaches the North fork Nooksack river. After following the river for a while the trail dives back into the woods for several miles until it once again approaches the river. It is easy to follow, just look for the blue flags and blue signs with arrows.
This was an easy trail and was perfect for a first time out. My only complaint would be that for some reason at certain points in the trail there is a disturbing lack of snow for it being the middle of February. However, with the storms coming through this weekend that problem should be remedied fairly soon. All in all it was a great way to introduce ourselves to the sport of snowshoeing, and by the end of the day we agreed that we want more. Hopefully we can get out again for spring break and try out some other trails in the area.
Permits: Discover Pass Required
Elevation Gain: Unknown
My Hiking Time: 5 hrs
With the weather barley hanging on it seemed like time to get out once more before I have to put on a pair of snowshoes to get around in the woods. While that does sound enticing, with the small crowds and virtually open country, I am not looking forward to the extra work it requires. So I was excited to hit the trails at least one more time in my hiking boots.
This trail begins at an almost unnoticeable trail head on the side of Highway 11, near milepost 10. Finding it can be difficult if the trail is empty, but most days it should be obvious from the long line of cars on the west side of highway 11.
Begin by climbing up the side of Blanchard hill, following 4 long switchbacks for about 1.9 miles to a trail junction. Go left at this point to stay on the main trail leading toward Lilly lake and Oyster dome. Here the trail becomes a little more interesting as it crosses a couple of creeks, and passes a viewpoint that looks out over Samish bay. After about a mile, the trail curves right and heads straight up a large hill, eventually reaching a plateau.
At the plateau the trail forks once again, I headed right to get a view of Lilly lake. From here it is just 0.4 easy miles to the shores of the lake. I was surprised to see that the trees were blanketed in snow as I approached, and the shores had a good 6 inches all around. With very little area to sit and enjoy some lunch with all the snow, I headed around to the left following the camping trail.
I must say that the camping available at Lilly lake was of fairly poor quality except for the last site as you go around the lake. However, after seeing the camping available at lizard Lake I would not even recommend using that one for the night.
Once around the lake, about 0.2 miles, the trail splits again, I headed right toward Lizard lake. From here the trail drops down through the woods and comes out on the shore of Lizard lake.
Lizard lake seemed like the much better of the two lakes. It was less crowded and had far nicer camping spaces. It seemed like a good place for an early season weekend out, and in fact there were some campers there enjoying a decent sized fire. After inspecting the lake for a few minutes and finding little area to sit again due to snow I retraced my steps to the plateau and took the left trail toward Oyster dome.
From the plateau it is only a a short 0.25 miles to the top of Oyster Dome where you will get an excellent view over Samish bay. Finally finding a place to sit I got out my jet boil and heated up some cocoa to keep warm in the chilly wind.
After soaking in the view for about 30 minutes, I headed home feeling rejuvenated.
My name is Abrahm and I am a college student, and outdoor enthusiast . I spend much of my free time wandering through and photographing the great Pacific Northwest state of Washington.