The trailhead is accessible from Chuckanut Drive (a destination in and of itself, Chuckanut Drive is continually rated as one of the most scenic drives in the country). Starting out on the Pacific Northwest Trail, the first mile of serpentine trail will make you glad to see a much needed bench in a clearing. Take a seat to catch your breath, drink some water, and take in the view of Samish Bay. This sunny area is also enjoyed by local wildlife, as we found the last time we hiked the trail and I let out a small yelp at the sight of a garter snake, sunning itself on the path.
Around the 2 mile mark, you can spot large boulders (erratics) just off the trail, and small streams stemming from both Lizard and Lily lakes. This section of trail is under denser tree cover, keep the trail a welcome cool in the warm summer months. The next trail junction will be quite obvious for a sad reason. Talus Trail, which leads to the base of Oyster Dome, has been closed due to the negative impact of human interaction with the bat colonies that make their homes in the caves created by the craggy talus rock formations. Please respect the trail signs and continue to the right towards the peak of Oyster Dome. At the top of this section of trail, you'll come to the final junction. The trail to the right leads to Lily and Lizard Lakes, while the Rock Trail to the left leads to the top of Oyster Dome. The signage here is slightly dubious, and the only obvious marking indicating Oyster Dome's location is an “O” with an arrow pointing left carved into the bark of a tree.
Before undertaking the final knee-aching slope, you'll cross the largest of the few stream crossings on this trail. You shouldn't worry about getting wet, as there are strategic rocks for easy hop-skip-jumping to the other bank. Again, just be careful—these rocks are wet and slick. You'll looking straight up at perhaps the steepest part of the Oyster Dome trail. Here, tree roots have helped to create natural stairs up the slope. But just think, at the top of this last slope, that pint-worthy view is waiting.
Oyster Dome presents one of best views of the San Juans from the Bellingham area. Looking at Samish Bay, when the tide is out you'll be able to see the beds of Taylor Shellfish farm. To the left, you'll see a sliver of rural fields in Skagit County and the outcropping peninsula of Samish Island. The islands in view include Guemes, Cypress, Orcas, Sinclair, Vendovi, Eliza, and Lummi. Beyond, on a clear day, you'll be able to make out the snow-capped peaks of the Olympics. Take in the view—you've earned your pint.
For a detailed account of the geological features of Blanchard Mountain, the science nerd in me implores the science nerd in you to read Dave Tucker's fantastic post over at Northwest Geology Field Trips:
As always, a great resource for trip reports, Washington Trail's Association has a great page on Oyster Dome: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/oyster-dome