Blanchard and Nearby Islands
The 4,500-acre Blanchard State Forest, located in Skagit County, and areas to the south in Snohomish County, are working forestlands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide sustainable revenue in support of public services.
Extensively logged starting in the mid-1800s, Blanchard State Forest, also known as Blanchard Mountain or Blanchard Hill, was deeded to the state after a major fire there in 1925. For more than half a century DNR has invested time, funds and effort to manage, replant and protect the new forestlands that today provide many benefits. Timber production, biomass byproducts, communication tower leases, and other activities on these lands help to fund local services in Skagit County. Local beneficiaries include Burlington-Edison Schools, United General Hospital, the Port of Skagit County, and Skagit County roads and public services.
In addition to earning income, the undeveloped working lands in this area provide habitat for native plants and animals, water retention and water quality benefits, and diverse recreation opportunities. In 2007, DNR established a Blanchard Forest strategy to protect long-term income production for the trust beneficiaries, plant and wildlife habitat, and public-use opportunities with involvement from the broader community. Today, an eleven-member Blanchard Forest Advisory Committee appointed by the Commissioner of Public Lands provides recommendations to assist DNR's management and recreation decisions. These committee members, whose meetings are open to the public, represent organized non-motorized recreation, trust beneficiaries, the forest industry, land trusts, conservationists, and local community members, businesses and schools.
When working in or visiting managed lands in the Blanchard State Forest or nearby areas, always remember to:
- Be alert for other road users, ranging from heavy vehicles to bicycles, and check your speed accordingly.
- Know the fire risk and of any burn bans or Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) restrictions before entering.
Those interested in learning about planned forest activities in, or near, the Blanchard area may use our Habitat Conservation Plan, recreation planning, Forest Practices Application Review System (FPARS), and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) web pages to find out about proposed and authorized timber harvests, thinning projects, road projects, planning efforts, and other activities.
DNR offers diverse recreation opportunities in Blanchard and the surrounding forests. Find hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking in the Chuckanut Mountains of Blanchard Forest, or head to Walker Valley for 35 miles of off-road-vehicle riding trails. Kayak to one of our boat-access campgrounds on the waters west of Blanchard, such as the Griffin Bay Campground on San Juan Island, or take a trail ride in the horseback riding-oriented Les Hilde trail system in the Harry Osborne Forest. Additional recreation opportunities can be found in the surrounding DNR-managed forests, including Reiter Foothills Forest, Harry Osborne Forest, and Walker Valley Forest.
- To access recreation sites on DNR-managed land with your vehicle, you'll need a Discover Pass, your ticket to Washington's great outdoors.
- Campgrounds are first come, first served. No reservations.
- Camping stay is limited to 7 days in a 30-day period.
- Practice leave no trace principles and pack out what you pack in.
- DNR currently has a statewide burn ban through September 30, 2015. This burn ban prohibits campfires in state forests, state parks and anywhere else on the 13 million acres of Washington forestlands DNR protects from wildfire. Learn more about outdoor burning.
- Dogs allowed on leash. Horseback riders may bring unleashed dogs controlled by voice command.
DNR's Cypress Island Natural Resources Conservation Area, Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area, Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area, Lummi Island Natural Resources Conservation Area, Point Doughty Natural Area Preserve, and the Lake Louise Natural Resources Conservation Area, near Blanchard Forest, also provide low-impact recreation opportunities. Use our statewide interactive recreation map to find recreation opportunities near you.
At an elevation of 1,300 feet, Samish Overlook, offers stunning views of the San Juan Islands and Skagit Valley. Watch hang gliders and paragliders launch from this site, or access the Blanchard Forest through this trail system.Trailhead facilities include benches and a vault toilet.
- Large vehicles limited to 25-feet in length.
- Day use only. Open one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
Directions: Take exit 240 from I-5 north. Turn left on Samish Lake Road. Go .5 miles and turn left on Barrel Springs Road. Go .6 miles and turn right on DNR Road. Go .6 miles to Lower Trailhead Drive.
The Lower Trailhead trail, which serves as the southern entrance to Chuckanut Mountains, has wide switchbacks that connect with the Upper Trailhead.
Directions: Start at I-5 exit 240. Go north on Samish Lake Road for .5 miles. Turn left on Barrel Springs Road. Go one mile. Turn right on B-1000 Road. Go 1 mile to trailhead.
Blanchard Upper Trailhead provides the main access for non-motorized recreation use in the southern portion of the Chuckanut Mountains. Trails provide views of Samish Bay, the San Juan Islands and pristine forest lakes. Trailhead provides access to backcountry campsites, Lily Lake Campground and Lizard Lake Campground.
- No toilets available at Lily and Lizard campgrounds.
- No garbage service at Lily and Lizard campground. Practice leave no trace principles and pack out what you pack in.
- Camping is limited to established campsites only for a maximum of 7 days in a 30-day period.
Directions: From Blanchard Forest Block - Lower Trailhead. Continue on B-1000 Road for one mile. Stay right on B-1000 Road for .2 mile to site on right.
DNR also has boat-access camping available at the Cypress Island Natural Resources Conservation Area and the Lummi Island Natural Resources Conservation Area.
This five-campsite campground on San Juan Island provides stunning ocean views. Facilities include a vault toilet.
Directions: Boat access only.
Upright Channel Day-Use Area and Beach Access is located on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands. It offers access to a 20-acre day-use park, which includes trails, beach access and a picnic area.
Directions: From Lopez Island ferry landing, continue 2 miles on Ferry Road. Stay right on Fisherman Bay Road and continue .4 miles. Turn right on Military Road and continue .2 miles. Turn right and continue on Military road .3 miles. Site on the right.
Harry Osborne Forest
Les Hilde Trailhead, located in the Harry Osborne State Forest, has 40 miles of primarily horseback riding trail. Facilities include picnic tables, highline for horses, day-use shelter, and vault toilet.
Directions: Start in Sedro Woolley at SR-20 and Township Road. Head east on SR-20 for 10.4 miles. Turn left on Cabin Creek Road. Go .2 miles. Turn right on Hamilton Cemetery Road. Go .4 mi. Turn left on Medford Road and go 1.1 miles to trailhead.
Reiter Foothills Forest
Popular among off-road-vehicle riders, Reiter Foothills Forest’s 10,000 acres are located between sub-alpine wilderness and the Skykomish River valley, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks. Potable toilet at parking areas. View a map of overall recreation opportunities in Reiter Foothills Forest, the single-track motorcycle map, 4x4 map, and the ATV map.
Reiter Foothills Forest trails are open Fridays, 4 p.m. - 7 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Reiter Foothills Forest is open on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
- Obey posted signs and stay off unsigned or closed trails.
- No dispersed camping, day-use only.
- No garbage service. Pack out what you pack in.
- Stay on designated trails.
- Only ride on trails that fit your vehicle.
- Discover Pass required on all street-legal vehicles, including motorcycles and 4x4s.
- Report illegal activity to DNR's Forest Watch program at 1-855-886-8268 or email@example.com.
Directions: From Gold Bar, continue east on Highway 2. Turn left on Reiter Road. After 1 mile, stay right at the fork. Turn left after 3.2 miles onto a DNR forest road, Deer Flats Road. Continue to the parking areas, which will be marked.
The Reiter Foothills Focus Group meetings are open for all to attend. These are a great way to hear firsthand about the progress at Reiter and to provide your input on recreation planning. Meetings are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every fourth Wednesday of the month. They are held in the East Public Meeting Room in the Snohomish County Building at 3000 Rockefeller Avenue in Everett.
Walker Valley Forest
View a trail map of Walker Valley.
Walker Valley Trailhead is a popular ORV destination with 36 miles of trails. The Walker Valley Trail system has single track trails for motorcycles and mountain bikes, double track trails for ATVs and six miles of 4x4 trails.
Recreation alert: Upper Mainline is temporarily closed during timber harvesting operations in the area. The closure is located about 1 ½ miles up the Upper Mainline Trail just past where it intersects the south end of Expressway Trail. Please stay clear of the area and do not try to clear felled trees as they belong to the timber buyer and logging operator.
Recreation alert: The Timber Tamer 4x4 trail will be closed due to logging activity beginning in late May and likely lasting through summer 2015. The forest road adjacent to the logging operation (WV-22) will also be closed during hours of logging activity and may be reopened during weekend periods by the logger when possible. A portion of Cavanaugh Trail just to the north of the WV-22 road will also be closed temporarily during the logging operation. The recommended alternate route for 4x4 vehicles is to use the Upper Mainline trail to access the ORV trail system. For ATV and motorcycle users, a number of alternatives are available, such as Muddled Meanderings (ATV) and Tooler Trail (motorcycles).
Directions: Start at I-5 exit 227. Go east on SR-538 for 4 miles. Turn south on SR-9. Go 3 miles (milepost 42). Turn left on Walker Valley Road. Go 2 miles. Turn right on to Peter Barns Road. Go 1 mile, then to trailhead on right, just past the bridge. Get directions.