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.

Spring 2017 Field Trips

March 25. Saturday. 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Earliest Flowers at Deception Pass

Deception Pass Field Trip
Explore one of the best sites for early season wildflowers on the shore of the Salish Sea at Deception Pass State Park. We’ll ramble across the meadows on Pass Island where the grass widows (Olysynium douglasii) and camas (Camassia quamash) should be blooming. Examine Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) male and female cones, see red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) clinging to the cliffs just above the splash zone, and see if the first precocious blossoms of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) are showing. Maybe even a checker lily (Fritillaria affinis) under the trees. Then we’ll head over to West Beach where we should see diminutive Claytonia exigua ssp. exigua in the sand. What else might we find? Mark Turner (, 360-671-6851) is leading. Meet at the Fairhaven west side park & ride to carpool, leaving at 8 am and returning around 5 pm.

April 1. Saturday. 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Larrabee State Park Balds

A dense forest covers most of Larrabee SP. However, there are several small open areas, balds, in the spring filled with vibrant flowers not to be found in the shade of the forest. We will visit several of these balds and then hike to the ridge of Chuckanut Mt. Be prepared for off-trail travel on very steep terrain. Meet at the Fairhaven west side park-and-ride at the south end of 32nd Street at 9 AM. Discover Passes will be necessary. If you have questions contact Jim Duemmel at 733-3448 or

April 22, Saturday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Oyster Dome

The best view near Bellingham can be enjoyed from the west side of Blanchard Mt. on the rocky precipice known as Oyster Dome. We will botanize our way from the Samish Overlook north, pausing to examine cascading rivulets, ferny glens, massive old-growth stumps and logging relics as we go. Bring a sack lunch to enjoy at the top and be prepared for a 5 mile round trip with almost 2000 feet of elevation gain. Meet at the Fairhaven Parkway west side Park and Ride (at the end of 32nd St) at 9:00 AM. Contact Abe ( if you have questions.

May 7, Sunday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Beaver Botany at Maple Creek Reach

Do you marvel at dams and canals, or have a favorite engineering feat? Or if you think you’re right-brained, maybe you have a favorite masterpiece of art? Well, the mighty beaver will put your bests to the test! Join us as we use both sides of the brain to explore Maple Creek Reach, a property that Whatcom Land Trust has co-managed with Castor canadensis for over a decade. Together, their extensive restorations are forming a highly diverse, textured land and aquascape replete with exciting forest, riparian and wetland flora. In the course of a rambling, 3-4 mile loop, we will puzzle out the complexities of plant succession and the many ways beavers sculpt wood and watersheds. The pace will be leisurely but the terrain is uneven, and both lunch and knee boots are advised. We will depart from the SE corner of Sunset Square Safeway parking lot at 9 am and return between 3 and 4 pm. This trip will be ideal with a 12 person max, so please RSVP to Rob ( for registration and pre-trip background materials.

May 13, Saturday, 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM

Teddy Bear Cove County Park

We will visit Whatcom County’s largest publicly accessible Garry Oak grove and remove the Scotch Broom that is growing there. Our removal technique: pull seedlings and cut older plants at ground level. We want to catch the broom while it is blooming and disturb the soil as little as possible. Tools needed: clippers, loppers, pruning saws. Bring your favorite tool – the county will supply some extras. Gather at the North Chuckanut Mountain parking lot along Chuckanut Drive at the west end of Arroyo Park just north of California St. at 9:30 AM. If you have questions contact Jim Duemmel at 733-3448 or

May 20, Saturday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Flowering Plant Restoration Through Fire

A very large and hot fire a couple of years ago in and around Newhalem killed many trees and burned the understory in multiple areas. Much of the area is still too dangerous to hike (e.g., falling trees and limbs), but we will find safe areas where regrowth has begun. It will be interesting to note the species that are first colonizing burned areas and whether there are any differences between lightly and severely burned areas. We will meet at 8:00 at the Fairhaven west side Park & Ride (at the end of 32nd St.) in Bellingham and carpool to the Newhalem area along Highway 20. Bring a lunch and wear sturdy clothes/shoes as we may be thrashing around in the brush a little. Please contact Jim Davis at 296-5159 or for more information.

May 29, Monday, Memorial Day, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Marine Algae of Point Whitehorn

Pt. Whitehorn proper is Whatcom County’s best algae and invertebrate beach. We will approach it from the Birch Bay side, continuously tidepooling while making our way to the “mother lode”; about 5 miles of flat walking, return. Rubber boots, guidebook, snacks, water, hand lens, hand towel and clothing for “cooler than I expected” shoreside conditions. All knowledge levels and backgrounds welcome; for some this will be tutorial, others a seminar; invertebrate and bird observations are permitted too! Whatever guidebook you own is just fine; if buying, I suggest Druehl, Louis D. and Bridgette E. Clarkston, 2016, Pacific Seaweeds; ISBN 978-1-55017-737-4. Meet for car pooling at Sunset Safeway lot at 9:00 AM, or meet the group at the S.W. corner of Birch Bay State Park, boat ramp and last toilet facility, at 9:40; vehicle Discover Pass required. Questions? Try Bob Lemon or (360)714-8629.

June 3, Saturday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Ferns of the Baker River Trail

Spreading Wood Fern

Spreading Wood Fern [Dryopteris expansa] along the Baker River Trail

The trail is an easy 5 miles round-trip, with only about 200 ft. of elevation gain. We should see as many as 20 species of ferns, including the Sierra Marsh Fern, Thelypteris nevadensis, the Male Fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, and Northern Beach Fern Phegopteris connectilis. This trail is also a great place to hunt for fern gametophytes. We may even glance at a few flowering plants along the way. Bring a lunch and water, and dress for the weather. Meet to carpool at the west side Fairhaven Park & Ride at the end of 32nd Street at 8:00 am. Contact Tim McNitt at 360-714-9474 or with any questions.

June 24, Saturday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Hannegan Pass Trail

This trail becomes a busy route to the back country after the snow melts out, but should be ideal for leisurely botanizing in late June this year. We will likely go 2 or 3 miles on the gentle valley bottom part of the trail before we are turned back by snow. Meet at the southeast corner of the Sunset Square Safeway parking lot at 8:00 AM. Bring a lunch and water, dress for the weather, and wear shoes suitable for crossing snow patches. Contact Allan Richardson at 360-733-5477 or to confirm.

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.