I declare this my favorite hike in the Oregon Coastal Mountains.
We went pretty wild last weekend and headed west to the Oregon Coastal Mountains. Sometimes I forget that we live between two mountain ranges, since we spend a lot of time in the Cascades and the Columbia River Gorge (both of which are east of Portland). And I forget that the ocean is just on the other side of the mountains. Have I mentioned that Oregon is awesome? We took full advantage of Oregon’s glory last weekend with a hike to the top of Saddle Mountain.
This hike was crazy. When you pull into the parking lot, you can see the mountain looming above you, and that’s not even the top! We were slightly intimidated, especially after reading that this hike would be strenuous, but we carried on.
The trail starts in the woods and begins to climb immediately. With a 1,640-foot elevation gain over a little more than 2.5 miles, there’s not a lot of time spent on flat ground.
When the trees open up to the views, it’s kind of overwhelming. Mountains, ocean, trees, and sweet, glorious, sunshine. We lucked out with another incredible, spring-like (or summer-like, judging by the tank tops and shorts spotted on the trail) weekend, with crisp, bluer than blue skies. It was incredible. And a perfect day for hiking to the top of a mountain with some of the best views in Oregon.
Eric took these photos of me on the edge of one of the overlooks, and they may be my favorite photos from our many years of hiking. They serve as evidence of the enormous, magical world we live in. And they prove that I actually do go on these hikes, since I’m generally the one behind the camera. They also prove that I have really horrible posture, perhaps as a result of sitting on the couch, eating donuts after our adventures (it’s a burden I’m willing to bear).
I don’t know how well you can tell from the next photo, but the trail wanders up the middle of the mountain, and there are teeny-tiny people on the very top. It’s a pretty steep climb, but you can pretend you are stopping to “take in the views” while you secretly catch your breath.
This is probably the best photo evidence I have of the craziness of this trail. Since a lot of the path is crumbly rock, a good portion of the trail is covered in this chain-link fencing, which allows you to keep your grip (and provides a fear that your small feet will get stuck in one of the holes and send your face crashing into the metal path). There are also handrails along parts of the trail, which will provide great comfort when the wind blows.
Once you reach the summit, there are views for days. Seriously. That’s the ocean to the west. To the north, we could see Astoria and the Columbia River separating Oregon and Washington. To the east, we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier! And to the south, just lots of coastal mountains and enough trees to build a zillion cabins in the woods.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend this hike on a rainy or snowy day (neither of which have been a problem this winter), as the trail could be a bit treacherous and slippery when wet. But on a clear day, please go hike Saddle Mountain. It’s very popular in nice weather (the parking lot was so packed when we got there that people were parking in the grass and on the curb), but it is worth fighting the crowds.
To get to the Saddle Mountain Trailhead, take US 26 W from Portland for about 65 miles. Turn right at the sign for Saddle Mountain State Park. The trailhead is at the end of a very potholed 7-mile long road.