Maybe you’ll never scale Everest, but climb Saddle Mountain and you’ll feel like you’ve conquered a significant peak if you hike this mountain near the Oregon Coast. It’s the tallest point in Clatsop County, and can be seen all the way from the docks of Astoria to mountain hikes in the Columbia Gorge. Even Lewis and Clark made note of Saddle Mountain in their journals. Bottom line: It’s one heck of a climb.
Knowing this, expect a demanding hike. The trail up is steep, rising 1,600 feet in 2.5 miles, so pace yourself. And note that it’s a well-traveled trail, so feel free to stop and talk to your fellow adventures while catching your breath.
Luckily, it’s a scenic enough trail to distract you from your aching legs and heavy panting…there are vibrant wildflowers, stately Douglas firs and alder trees, carpets of ferns, and bunches of wood sorrel. Come during spring for blossom season if you want to see the hillside swathed in those famous Oregon wildflower displays. Saddle Mountain is also (amazingly) a botanical island, with flowers left over from the last ice age that can't be readily found elsewhere.
Press on toward the top, 3,200 feet above sea level, and you’ll at last be at the summit you’ve sweated to reach. Folks say it’s well worth the hike. Don’t believe them? Try making it to the top first and see if the view changes your mind.
A tip from Oregon State Parks, which maintains Saddle Mountain State Park: "If you don’t feel up to the main hike, try the short, 10-minute Humbug Mountain viewpoint trail that shoots off from the main trail a quarter mile from the trailhead. The spur trail gradually climbs to the top of a small peak and has views of Saddle Mountain. "
Directions from Portland and points east:
- Travel west on Highway 26.
- Watch for the Saddle Mountain State Park sign at about mile post 10.
- Take a right turn to head north.
- Travel 7 miles to the trailhead at the road's end.
You can also use these GPS coordinates in Google Maps for directions: 45.90623,-123.745565.