Blanchard, Whatcom County and Nearby Islands
Attention: Alerts and Closures
Recreation alert: Recreation alert: DNR has temporarily closed the Harry Osborne State Forest in Skagit County to motor vehicle access after years of vandalism, garbage dumping, and other public safety issues. The trailhead is open for day use. Camping will not be allowed through the end of the year, though the forest remains open for walk-in dispersed recreation. Learn more.
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.
DNR manages this working forest in partnership with its Blanchard Forest Advisory Committee. This committee consists of a diverse group of stakeholders from the recreational, environmental, timber industry and Skagit County working collaboratively to provide input to the agency on the best practices for managing Blanchard State Forest as a working forest.
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 nearly 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 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.
DNR’s Northwest Region offers diverse recreation opportunities and breathtaking views across the Salish Sea and mountain ranges of western Washington. On a clear day, look to the skies, and you’re sure to see daring hang gliders soaring from Samish Overlook on Blanchard Mountain. Set off in a kayak from Griffin Bay Campground on San Juan Island. Or, perhaps saddle up your horse and ride through Harry Osborne Forest. Blanchard Forest, Harry Osborne Forest, and the nearby islands are no stranger to scenic adventure.
Baker to Bellingham
Baker to Bellingham Non-Motorized Recreation Plan is complete.
After three years of collaborative effort and planning, we are pleased to present the Baker to Bellingham Non-Motorized Recreation Plan—the guiding document for sustainable recreation experiences in Whatcom County for the next 15 years. You can find the document here and take a closer look at the Recreation Planning Concept Map here.
Tips for your visit
- Don’t forget your Discover Pass! Learn more about it at DiscoverPass.wa.gov
- Campsites are available first-come, first-served at no additional cost with the purchase of a Discover Pass.
- Camping stay is limited to 7 days in a 30-day period.
- Dogs are allowed on a leash. Horseback riders may bring unleashed dogs if they are controlled by voice command.
- Enjoy a campfire in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds only. Always check for burn restrictions before lighting a campfire.
- Don't Move Firewood. Help protect Pacific Northwest forests by preventing the spread of invasive species. Firewood can carry insects and diseases that can threaten the health of our western forests. Please purchase firewood near your campsite. Find more information here.
- Be alert for other road users, ranging from heavy vehicles to bicycles, and check your speed accordingly.
Leave No Trace
Please follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace for your safety and the safety of our wildlife. Please follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace. You can brush up on them here. Food and garbage left behind or improperly disposed of can attract wildlife and create potentially dangerous situations for visitors. Please pack out all food items and garbage. NEVER feed wildlife.
Blanchard State Forest
Check out the trail map for Blanchard State Forest here. Click here for a map of other recreation opportunities in Whatcom County.
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 are 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. Get directions.
Blanchard Forest Lower
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. Get directions.
Blanchard Forest Upper
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 at 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 State Forest - Lower Trailhead. Continue on B-1000 Road for one mile. Stay right on B-1000 Road for .2 mile to site on the right. Get directions.
DNR also has boat-access camping available at the Cypress Island Natural Resources Conservation Area and the Lummi Island Natural Resources Conservation Area.
Griffin Bay Campground
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
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, including 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 State Forest
Recreation alert: DNR has temporarily closed the Harry Osborne State Forest in Skagit County to motor vehicle access after years of vandalism, garbage dumping, and other public safety issues. Parking at the Les Hilde Trailhead will be closed through July 1 and camping will not be allowed through the end of the year, though the forest remains open for walk-in dispersed recreation. Learn more here. Target shooting in the western half of the Harry Osborne State Forest, including at the Medford Pit, remains closed due to ongoing public safety and littering concerns.
Les Hilde Trailhead
Les Hilde Trailhead, located in the Harry Osborne State Forest, has 40 miles of primarily horseback riding trails. Facilities include picnic tables, a highline for horses, a day-use shelter, and a 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 the trailhead. Get directions.
About 4 miles of lower elevation trails in our North Mountain Bike Skills Area offer family-friendly riding year-round and opportunities for beginner and intermediate riders. An additional 10 miles of trail reach further up North Mountain to access terrain for more experienced riders. Learn more here.
Other recreation opportunities
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.