Oregon
 

Saddle Mountain

Oregon's Coast Range

Saddle Mountain

The Saddle on Saddle Mountain

The hike up Saddle Mountain isn't long — just a little over 2.5 miles one way. What it lacks in length it more than makes up for with a moderate to challenging climb through multiple zones of distinct plant life at various elevations.

The 360° views at the 3,283 ft. summit are spectacular with the Pacific Ocean visible to the west and Mt. Hood, Adams, and St. Helens to the east. The rolling Coast Range spreads out in all directions below blanketed covered in timber. (If you squint, you can imagine it pristine without the clearcuts.) To the northwest, you can see Astoria and Young's Bay near Fort Clatsop.

At the trailhead, the forest floor is sorrel and sword fern under an aspen and fir canopy. As you trek up the hillside, plant life changes from damp forest to exposed rock cliffs with a variety of sedums and sedges. Some plants are rare and grow nowhere else. For a plant photographer, it's paradise.

The hike is worth the time just for the flora alone. The wildflower season runs all summer with a different show every month. That said, the basalt rock faces are visually arresting too ... there's a lot of natural beauty packed into what is a relatively short hike.

There are 10 primative camping sites available, first come first serve. Several are located adjacent to the trail itself and wouldn't be prime camping real estate, but access to the trail for a dawn hike could be compelling.Camping sites are usually open from March to October.

Because it's a visitor destination, it's often quite busy ... especially on summer weekends.

Weather is famously variable. Storms rolling in from the coast can make it a long cold slog from fall through spring. Occasionally, the Park Service closes the trail completely during the winter.

This hike is suitable for anyone in reasonable condition as well as older children and teens, but not so much for very young kids. You'll definitely need to pack in the baby or toddler.

We made the climb without trekking poles and honestly would not do it again without them. A single walking stick was adequate, but two poles would have made the descent safer and easier. One caveat though; portions of the trail are laid with rock and secured chain link fencing for traction and erosion prevention. Use poles with care as we occasionally got stuck between rocks, which had the potential to throw us off balance a bit.

  • Details
  • Getting There
  • Trail Map

Permits & Passes: $5 day use fee.

Distance: From the trailhead and campground, it's 5.2 miles roundtrip to to the summit and back.

Elevation gain: 1600 ft.

Level of difficulty: Moderate to challenging depending on your condition.

Season: Year around, but winter closures may occur. The most popular times for hiking are from April through November.

From Sunset Highway heading west the mountain is about 70 miles from Portland. Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is clearly marked in plenty of time to make your right turn off the highway and onto the park access. From there it's about seven miles to the parking area, campground, and trailhead.

Saddle Mtn. Trail Map

Disclaimer: The trail map shown here is for information only. Print the State of Oregon brochure for more information.

Images

Related links

Oregon Parks and Recreation: Saddle Mountain— All the official detail for camping and hiking.