Want to check out Mary’s Peak, the highest point west of Corvallis? You’d be one of many adventurers hoping to knock this natural feature off their list. It’s a great promontory to hike in all seasons, with everything from delicate spring flowers to the foggy mystery of autumnal woods calling hikers up this mountain’s slopes.
Well, there are many paths up this Oregon destination, but the North Ridge route is one of the quieter ways up this popular mountain. It’s a somewhat challenging trek, and you’ll need some willpower to make it up the long, steep, elevation-climbing trail. But this route offers an unmatched perspective of the Mary’s Peak, and you’ll likely be unhindered by fellow hikers during the climb.
Start from the parking lot trailhead, head through the gate, and about 50 feet down the path you’ll see the North Ridge trail leading off to the right. Almost immediately the elevation gain kicks in, but there’s a breather ahead in the form of a flat, park-like area full of giant Douglas firs. Keep an eye out for mushrooms under these mossy branches as you look for a fork in the trail ahead.
Stay to the right at the junction, and get ready for a series of switchbacks leading up an impressively steep hillside. The vegetation will change as you climb, from mossy and verdant, to dry and scrubby. At roughly the three-and-a-half miles mark you'll encounter a bench and another junction. (No judgement if you need to sit and wheeze for a bit.) But the trail goes on, winding up to the right side of the fork.
In a short time you’ll hit Mary’s Peak summit trailhead, which gives you the option of heading onwards to the summit, or completing the North Ridge Loop by taking the East Ridge Trail, which starts at the southeast side of the parking lot. This path starts with a decent through an understory of vine maple and hits a gravel service road. Take a left and enjoy an easy three miles back down to your car.
Directions from Corvallis:
Take Highways 20 and 24 West, then keep left at the 0.7 mile mark and drive another 6.4 miles through Philomath. Stay straight at the junction that peels off to the left for Toledo and Newport and drive another 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Woods Creek Road and 7.7 miles down you’ll find a parking pullout on the left.