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Hiking The Boulder River Trail and Wilderness

Hiking The Boulder River Trail and Wilderness

We always start our day with a coffee. Don't be weird about it, coffee is great, and a great start to a hike. Prior to our drive out to the Boulder River Wilderness we grabbed some big ol' vats of coffee. We loaded up the car and THRAK WHACK SPLOOSH. A coffee met its tragic end in the apartment parking garage before ever even meeting the lips of its energize-ee. We had to embarrassingly trudge back and explain ourselves. "Hey we were just in here and uh... we need another spilled". A new one was happily made free of charge. How's that for service. 

We then ACTUALLY made the trek from Seattle to the Boulder River Wilderness. It was about a 90 minute drive for us so we settled in, drank our coffee, and listened to some good music. Part of the reason I picked this hike is, because the pictures looked beautiful, but because I was fascinated with the story of Oso, Washington. I was not living in Washington at the time, but in 2014, Oso, Washington experienced the deadliest landslide in American history. The news stations were talking about it nonstop recently because of its 10 year anniversary. I can't believe I never heard about this before. Driving to this hike took us along State Route 530 where the landslide in Oso took place. While we didn't have time to go to the memorial, seeing the mountainside from the road, that literally sloughed off and rushed into the valley was pretty wild. And terrifying. 

Not far after Oso, you pull onto National Forest road 2010. This is where things get tricky. It's not a maintained road. The potholes are killer. Thankfully we upgraded from a Honda Accord to a Subaru which took it in stride, but we were still bouncing around like crazy. For 3 straight miles. In fact.. there are no bathrooms at the trailhead. They're along the national forest road a few miles before the trailhead. Likely so that service workers don't have to traverse the potholes just to maintain the vault toilet. 

view from the forest road
It's a bumpy ride, but a BEAUTIFUL ride. Picture from the forest road.

Hiking Dirty Harry's Balcony Trail

Hiking Dirty Harry's Balcony Trail

Hey kids, want to come to Dirty Harry's Balcony? With a name like that who couldn't resist this hike? Honestly, the name is what first intrigued me. Heck of a name there. I'm trying to think like...was the movie Dirty Harry shot around here? Did Clint Eastwood climb this mountain and we were trying to thank him? No, Harry was simply a man who logged the area back in the day and had a questionable background. Questionable enough, to earn him the Dirty Harry moniker. Thanks for not logging the entire thing, Harry, your balcony and peak is a place of beauty! 

Dirty Harry's Balcony is a shorter but beautiful-still hike of the full Dirty Harry's Peak. The most commonly hiked path is Dirty Harry's Balcony via Birdhouse Trail which is what we did today. It's been a long week at work, so this was a perfect hike. Not too long or grueling, but awesome views to soak in. You're looking at less than 5 miles, maybe 4.5 out and back, and almost 1300 feet of elevation gain. Nothing terrible right? 

Dirty Harry Peak and Balcony trail sign

This is yet another awesome hike right off of I-90 and easily accessible from Seattle and surrounding communities.  It's only a 40-45 minute drive from Seattle. Yay! It's a super popular hike, but there's actually several climbing areas as well, if you're into that! We saw dudes at the trailhead unpacking all of their climbing gear from their trunk, so it's definitely a thing.

I was worried because on our drive in it was cloudy and foggy, despite forecasts saying it was going to be sunny for the day. Wouldn't you know it as we're driving through North Bend the weather really starts to clear up. It was meant to be. 

At the trailhead there are bathrooms, so fret not. While your partner, or friends use the toilet, use that time to put your discover pass in your window. You'll need it here. 

Easter Hike on Oyster Dome and Lily Lake

Easter Hike on Oyster Dome and Lily Lake

Oyster Dome to Lily Lake

We've apparently unofficially made it a point to do a decent sized hike on Easter apparently. Like most holidays, Easter isn't one we really celebrate, so we use it as an excuse to get a good first spring hike in. Our very first spring hike together was Rickett's Glenn in Pennsylvania back in 2017! In fact it was my first time actually hiking in general. Sure I played in the woods as a child, but never "hiking". It definitely made an impression on me. Then once COVID started there was that desperate need to get out and do something, so hiking and getting outside became my new favorite thing to do. Haven't stopped since. Anyway...

It was a beautiful day to drive up to northwestern Skagit County for a hike. Those Bellinghammers are lucky to have such beautiful places so close to them. This is only like 30 minutes south of Bellingham. We had to drive nearly an hour and a half from Seattle. 

Our walking map from the trails. About 9 ish miles and 1550 feet of elevation gain overall.


In the Blanchard State Forest on Blanchard Mountain sits Oyster Dome. There are numerous trails in the area surrounding Oyster Dome. We started from the Blanchard Mountain Upper Trailhead. There is an Oyster Dome trailhead if that is your only destination, but we wanted a longer hike and wanted to visit Lily Lake as well. As such we took the Lily Lake Trail which links up with the Pacific NW trail.

There was a vault toilet at the Blanchard Mountain Upper trailhead, thankfully! Those who pound a coffee on the drive in will be rewarded! There are several other trails in this area, to get where we wanted we had to back track ever so slightly down the road we came. 

Western Skunk Cabbage -- Swamp lantern at the trailhead
On our walk down the side of the road had flowing water and these cool Western Skunk Cabbage flowers growing in it!
Tenerrife (Kamikaze) Falls Trail -- Washington

Tenerrife (Kamikaze) Falls Trail -- Washington

Hiking the Tenerrife Falls Trail

It's spring in Washington. Have I mentioned that yet? If you're going to do waterfall hikes now is the time. The rainy season is closing up, but we're still experiencing rain, snow is melting from the peaks of the mountains, all of this adds up to increased water flow rates. If you're looking for a good time for waterfalls, spring is it. I have a feeling it's going to be a very dry 2024 summer season in the PNW, so I'm glad we went here when we did. 

Tenerrife Mountain and Falls Trailhead
Parking Lot of the Trailhead

It's amazing how many excellent hikes are right off of I-90. Add this one to the list. It's right near Mt. Si near North Bend and the trailhead shares a parking lot with the main Teneriffe Mountain trail. You start on one trail and continue up the the mountain if you wish. I'm just here for the falls, man. The trailhead has a toilet, because you know I care, and I know some of you do to. AllTrails rates it at a hard, but I thought it was solidly moderate. It is roughly 6 miles out and back and a bit over 1600 feet in elevation gain throughout. 

Mt. Tenerrife Trailhead Sign


King County runs a public transit option called the Trailhead Direct that can actually take you here from Seattle, which is great if you don't otherwise drive and/or would prefer public transportation. It has very limited operation though, really only weekends and holidays during the summer. But still. Cool that it exists! It takes you to Mt. Si, Little Si, and Teneriffe Mountain trailheads. It is otherwise roughly a 40 minute drive from Seattle. 

start of tenerrife trail

The start of the trail enters the forest at a slow and easy pace, very well padded down paths and little elevation. The first 1.5 miles is roughly only 450 feet of elevation gain. The elevation picks up in grade for about a half mile, then you begin to enter several switchbacks of more difficult elevation gain for almost a mile. It's all worth it! 

dog poop bag on the trail
don't do this. for the love of god, do not do this

peaks of mountains
Peeks of mountain peaks begin to show through the trees on your journey