Field Trips

Koma Kulshan chapter Washington Native Plant Society field trips are generally free and open to the public. Exceptions are noted in the trip descriptions.

While attending WNPS events, please observe these policies, in effect since March 2022. Please do not attend an event if either of the following are true:
– You currently have any COVID symptoms or have had symptoms in the past 14 days
– You have any reason to quarantine according to the CDC
WNPS event hosts will not facilitate carpooling. While participating in the event, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other participants, or wear a mask if approaching more closely. If you test positive for COVID within 14 days of the event, please contact the WNPS office at 206-527 3210 or the WNPS Business Manager at wnps [at] wnps [dot] org.

 

SPRING 2024 Field Trips

April 27th, 2024, Saturday, 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Chuckanut Bay Shoreline Exploration

The north end of Chuckanut Bay has steep south-facing slopes, a marsh behind a gravelly beach ridge, mature second growth forest, and oak tree meadows. This is also an important location in the traditions of the Nooksack Indians and other Coast Salish peoples, as documented in Nooksack Place Names and by five archaeological sites. We will first explore the beach ridge and marsh, then slopes above the mud flats at low tide. Chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis) and mountain larkspur (Delphinium menzeisii) should be in full bloom. A full plant list is available on the WNPS state website. Meet at the end of Fairhaven Ave in the Chuckanut Village neighborhood of Bellingham. Take Chuckanut Drive less than a mile south of Fairhaven Park to a right turn behind the Chuckanut Bay Gallery to reach Fairhaven Ave. Bring boots or shoes suitable for ankle deep mud, and other shoes for the trail. Contact Allan Richardson at 360-305-5270 or asrichardson5@gmail.com to sign up.

May 4th, 2024, 9:00am to 3:00pm

Rocky Balds of Vedder Mountain

We’ll meet at 9:00AM at SE corner of the Sunset Square parking lot (near Taco Bell) to carpool. From there we will drive to the Backcountry Horsemen parking lot on Reese Hill Rd. The moderately strenuous 2.2 mile round trip trail gains 1000’ of elevation to an overlook at 1634’. We will pay particularly close attention to the rocky bald habitats near the summit where we can expect to find camas and an uncommon species of sea blush. No size limit. Contact trip leader Abe Lloyd if you have questions (arcadianabe [at] yahoo [dot] com).

May 18th, 2024, Saturday, 10:00am to 2:00pm

Baker River Wildflowers and Pollinators

After pre-registering with Jim Davis (jimdavisscs [at] gmail [dot] com), meet at 10:00 AM at the Baker River Trailhead at the end of the Baker Lake Road. Dense forest limits flowering plant abundance in much of the North Cascade lowlands. However, there are lowland areas with abundant flowers and, of course, their associated pollinators. River and lake margins provide habitats where sunlight penetrates far enough into riparian areas to create healthy flowering plant communities. Meandering rivers (Baker River as a prime example) also create forest openings that gradually recover to mature forest, going through several stages of flowering shrubs and small trees. If we have time, we may even visit a burned area along Park Creek where the shrub layer is slowing recovering. Late May to early June is the best time to visit the Baker River area. We should see quite a few flowers. This will be a relatively easy hike of about 2+ miles on mostly level terrain along the river. Hopefully the weather will be good, but you never know, so bring appropriate rain gear and warm clothing. Also bring a lunch and plenty of water. Don’t forget your Forest Service / Park Service parking pass. There are no fee stations in the area. We will be meeting at the trailhead, so please arrange your own carpools as you think appropriate. It can be up to a two-hour drive to the trailhead, depending on how many stops you need to make along the way. The trip is limited to 12 people, so please register with Jim Davis at jimdavisscs [at] gmail [dot] com.

May 22nd, 2024, Wednesday, 9:15am to 1:00pm

Goose Rock

Goose Rock is the highest point on Whidbey Island at about 480 feet. Starting from the parking area at the east end of North Beach, we’ll hike under the bridge, through the forest, and up to the bald at the top to see a great diversity of wildflowers and other native bald/meadow plants. On a clear day, there are fantastic island views from the top. On the way down, I hope we’ll find Pacific rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum, in bloom along part of the loop trail. There is no plant list for Goose Rock yet – please come and help build one. I visited this area two years ago and have a preliminary list I can share. Bring a lunch if you like and we’ll stop to eat somewhere along the way. This is an easy to moderate hike, about 2-3 miles in length and ~500 feet elevation gain with some steep and/or slippery sections. It is in Deception Pass State Park and you will need a Discover Pass to park. We are visiting on a weekday because Deception Pass is a busy tourist area. It’s about 50 minutes to drive from Bellingham to the trailhead. We’ll meet at the trailhead at 9:15 am. Please contact Katie Mitchell, katie.henken[at]gmail.com to register or for more information.

June 1st, 2024, Saturday

Native Plants Garden Tour

Seven unique and beautiful private Whatcom gardens will open to the public, each owned and cultivated by amateur botanists and native plant enthusiasts, all being members of the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS). Distinctive among gardens, these will all showcase the beauty and practical advantages of plants that grow natively in the Pacific Northwest. In our region’s relatively short horticultural history, our local native plants remain yet undiscovered wonders to most gardeners. Volunteers will be available to answer your questions, and learning materials will be available to help you bring native plant gardening to your home. This will be a free event, with suggested donation. Volunteers will be needed to help our garden hosts on tour day! Please contact Eric Worden eric@ericworden.seattle.wa.us for more information. Check back for more details in coming weeks.

June 22nd, 2024 Saturday, 8:00am – 5 or 6pm

Yellow Aster Butte Trail

An early season outing to a very popular trail. We will study, identify, and enjoy the plants on the lower elevation part of the trail without the late summer crowds. There is lush growth in the open avalanche area close to the trailhead, then much of interest as we gain elevation in the forest. We might get into a bit of the meadows, if the snow pack allows. There is a new plant list for this trail on the WNPS state website.
 Meet to carpool at the southeast corner of Sunset Square Safeway parking lot for an 8:00 AM departure. Limited to 12 persons in Mt. Baker Wilderness. Contact Allan Richardson at 360-305-5270 or asrichardson5@gmail.com to sign up.

June 23rd, Sunday, 9:00am to 4:00pm

Marine Algae and Ecology of Pt. Whitehorn

*FULL! This field trip has reached the maximum number of attendees. Thank you for your understanding!

Celebrate the lowest tide of the year at Whatcom Co.’s best naturalist beach. We will approach the Point from the Birch Bay side, about 3 miles of beach walking, return total. Rubber boots, field guide, snacks, water, hand-lens, hand towel; all recommended; and ANTICIPATE MUCH COOLER, BREEZY, conditions than in your garden. All knowledge levels and backgrounds are welcome. An algae list is provided, and bring whatever field guide you may own and like. If buying or updating, I suggest Druehl, Louis D. and Bridgette E. Clarkston, 2016, Pacific Seaweeds and/or Sept, Duane J., 2019, The New Beachcomber’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest. Meet at S.W. corner of Birch Bay State Park (boat ramp) and last toilet facility at 9:00 AM; Discover Pass required for parking there. Bob Lemon and Glen “Alex” Alexander will lead up to 10 interested participants. Pre-registration is required. Contact Bob at lemprev@alphahunt.com to register or with any questions. Email is preferred but Bob can also be reached by phone at (360) 714-8629. More information will be supplied via email to registrants.

June 27th 2024, Thursday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Heather Meadows Wildflowers and Bumble Bees

Location: After pre-registering with Jim Davis (jimdavisscs [at] gmail [dot] com), meet at 10:00 AM at the Visitor’s Center parking lot in Heather Meadows near the Mt Baker Ski Area. Volunteers from the WNPS Koma Kulshan Chapter monitored wild flower phenology (when plants bloom) and bumble bee foraging from spring snow melt to first snowfall for five years in Heather Meadows. This hike will visit some of the areas that were monitored to see subalpine wild flowers at their peak and learn about how native plants and bumble bees interact to assure pollination and the profusion of wildflowers at Heather Meadows. We will start the hike at the Visitor’s Center parking lot and tour three of the transects we monitored at that elevation. If snow cover allows, we will then drive to the Artist’s Point parking lot and visit two additional transects at higher elevations. This will be about a three mile hike with about 300 ft elevation gain. There will be an option of walking up the Wild Goose Trail from the Visitor’s Center to the Artist’s Point parking lot (add about 1.6 miles and 500 ft elevation gain to the hike). Bring warm clothes (late June can be pretty chilly at Heather Meadows), sun protection, lunch, and adequate water. Trip limit: 12 people. Register with Jim Davis at jimdavisscs [at] gmail [dot] com.

June 28, 2024, Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Sauk Mountain Flora and Vistas

After pre-registering with Fritz Ulrich (fritz365@gmail.com), meet at 8:00 AM at the I-5 Park & Ride in Fairhaven on the WEST side of the freeway or at the Sauk Mountain trailhead at 9:45 AM. Let’s identify wildflowers together! The trail begins and ends in high mountain meadows offering wildflowers and spectacular vistas the entire length. We will hike through 26 gentle switchbacks in the first 1.5 miles in steep terrain and if we go all the way up to the site that once hosted a fire lookout at 5,500 ft elevation, removed by the Forest Service in the 1980s, it will be about 2.1 miles. There we (hopefully) can enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the North Cascades, where on a clear day you can see Mt. Rainier to the south, Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands to the west and the rugged Cascade peaks stretching to the east including Glacier Peak and Mount Baker. We expect an outstanding show of wildflowers that includes paintbrush, phlox, tiger lilies, aster, columbine, lupine, and many others. This trail (roundtrip 4.2 miles and 1,200 feet elevation change) is very popular and the reason for the weekday trip. We still may have to yield to lots of hikers during our botanizing and have to be careful in the steep and narrow sections of the trail. There is a decommissioned toilet at the trailhead or otherwise the woods will do (blue bags are required). The trail is south-facing, sunscreen and hiking poles are advisable. Trip limit: 10 people. (Sauk Mountain Plant List)


Previous field trips are listed on their own page in case you’re curious about where the Koma Kulshan chapter has explored in previous seasons.