Blanchard Hill (Chuckanut Mountain)

March 31, 2023


Bellingham, WA

“Blanchard Hill” or “Blanchard Mountain” is also known as the true (south) summit of Chuckanut Mountain, which is a wooded plateau that occupies a large area west of I-5 between Bellingham and Burlington. Locally this forested bump is more known as “Blanchard” because of Blanchard State Forest than Chuckanut even though the later is official. The only attraction of this objective is the 500+ meters of prominence as otherwise it’s just a lame forested summit with no view to speak of whatsoever. I’ve already done the western outlier namely Oyster Dome a few months ago on a nicer day which actually offered some views, but didn’t bother to extend the trip. This area is reasonably close to my home in White Rock and I didn’t mind to come back for another hike.

I made the spontaneous decision to hike “Blanchard Hill” with Nikita as a before-work exercise because she forgot her passport in my truck. Nikita would have to Uber to White Rock to pick that up before I leave for Nepal in a few days, so we might as well bag something. The forecast was calling for 5-10 mm of rain but this is an all-weather objective that I wouldn’t mind to do in the rain. I made her to show up at 6 am and we were already at the trail-head by 7 am. Instead of starting at the sea level like how I did Oyster Dome, I opted to drive to a higher trail-head using logging roads coming up from the east. The end of the road is Samish Overlook but we didn’t drive all the way there.

“Blanchard Hill” from south side trails. GPX DL

There are two trails that we could take and I opted to take the “Max’s Shortcut” labelled on my Gaia map. This was because I had already hiked the other trail en route to Oyster Dome and I wanted a new variation. This “short-cut” didn’t look like a short-cut to me, but probably is overall a little bit shorter than the other one. The trail is heavily used by bikers and hikers to access Lily Lake, so the hiking was very straightforward. I wasn’t aware of the well-trodden path heading to the summit from Lily Lake as it wasn’t labelled on the Gaia map, so did our own bushwhacking variation. The bushwhack terminated once we discovered the unofficial trail on the south ridge and then we were on the summit.

Starting the hike by walking up a gated logging road
Nikita charging up the “Max’s Shortcut” trail…
There were still continuous patches of snow
Doing our own bushwhacking variation since we didn’t know there’s a trail…
This trig point confirms our success…
Nikita and I on the summit of “Blanchard Hill”

There was no view as expected, so we grabbed a group picture and immediately descended. We followed that trail all the way down to Lily Lake so overall there’s no bushwhacking required for this objective. The rest of the descent was mostly done in pissing rain. It was raining pretty steadily even with the thick canopy. We finished the hike in exactly 2 hours and I was back home another hour later, earning myself plenty of time to rest before showing up at work.

Descending the unofficial south ridge trail
Back to the snow-covered trail near Lily Lake
Descending through mists and rain
The hike wasn’t bad, but was definitely boring…
Back to the final few hundred meters of walking on the logging road
Walking back to the truck in exactly 2 hours after starting the hike