Blanchard, Reiter, Walker Valley and Nearby Islands
   

 
 

Attention: Recreation Alerts and Closures

 
Recreation alert: DNR managed lands and campgrounds have begun to open. Some facilities may not be available. Get the latest information on openings here
 
View a list of additional operational changes related to COVID-19
 
 
 
 
 
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.

History

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 productionbiomass byproductscommunication 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.
 

Recreation

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. Visit Walker Valley and explore more than 35 miles of trail for off-road vehicles. 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, Reiter Foothills, Walker Valley, and the nearby islands are no stranger to scenic adventure.
 
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 

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 that is 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.
 

Recreation sites

Blanchard State Forest
Check out the new trail map, released May 2019, for Blanchard State Forest here. Click here for a map of other recreation opportunities in Whatcom County.
 
Samish Overlook
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. Get directions.
 
Recreation alert: Samish Overlook day use site will be closed for the restroom vault pumping on Tuesday, July 21 from 7 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
 
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 right. Get directions.
 
Islands
 
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, 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
Medford Pit
The Medford Pit is open to the public from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. It will be closed for entry between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.
 
Recreation alert: Starting Thursday, July 9, the Medford Pit will be closed during the weekdays (MON-FRI) only and will be open on weekends (SAT-SUN). This closure is for the safety of the contractors and the public due to the presence of heavy equipment. This closure will last about a month with an update in late July.
 
Les Hilde Trailhead
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 the trailhead. Get directions.
 
Reiter Foothills Forest
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. 
 
Recreation Alert: Blasting has been scheduled for the Brushcrasher Timber Sale located in the S1/2 of Section 21, T28N R9E. The scheduled blasting will occur Thursday, June 18 around noon.
 
Recreation Alert: The Sky Rider Timber sale will finish road building and begin logging operations as soon as June 17, 2020. Trails within the sale boundary will be closed Monday-Friday and some weekends. Cables may be set across some trails causing hazardous riding conditions. Do not enter closed trails and adhere to all trail closure signs. Road construction will occur in the area. However, the abandonment of these roads will accommodate ATV and motorbike use in the future. The sale should be complete by 3/31/2022.
 
 
 
Hours
Reiter Foothills Forest is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The rest of the year hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 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 forestwatch@dnr.wa.gov.
Directions: To access the motorized area 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 Public Forum meetings are open for all to attend. Learn more here.
 
Walker Valley Forest
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: Notice of Temporary Road Closure and Alternate Access to Walker Valley ORV Area September 14 - September 23, 2020.
 
DNR will start installation of a new replacement bridge at the north end of Peter Burns Road. This is located before entering the Walker Valley Off-Road Trails Area trailhead parking lot. Improvements are also planned to the other concrete bridge south of the trailhead. All of the road pull-outs near the bridge must be vacant by Sept. 14. The new bridge will increase water quality and salmon habitat. The new bridge is part of a forest management contract that will also benefit recreation user access.
 
Visitors will not be able to enter the ORV area by entering from the north off of Peter Burns Road. Access will be via the Lake Cavanaugh Road south off of Hwy. 9. From there, turn onto Peter Burns road to access the ORV area. Please be aware of heavy machinery in the area and follow all signage. Please contact Jim Cahill at jim.cahill@dnr.wa.gov, or call 360-333-0272 with questions. Thank you for your patience during this project.
 
Recreation alert: Expect heavy logging truck traffic on the Bear Creek Mainline Road. Drive slowly and exercise caution around logging trucks. 
 
Notice of partial trail closure:  A short portion of the SMC trail at Walker Valley ORV Area will be closed until a new bridge is built to replace one that is failing. The rest of the trail will remain open but will be re-routed around the closed area by using a section of logging road. The new bridge replacement will take place with a combination of funds that include a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Department of Natural Resources, volunteers, and the Washington Conservation Corps crews. The project is currently in the design and permit stage. The completion date is estimated to be early Spring 2021.
 
Trail maps
View a trail map of the Walker Valley ORV Area. 
 
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 Walker Valley trailhead on right, just past the bridge. Get directions.
 

Other recreation opportunities