- Rating: Difficult
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: 5 miles round-trip
- Time: 4 hours
Conquer the arduous path to the 3,283-foot summit of Saddle Mountain, and not only will you bag the highest peak in the northern Coast Range, but you’ll also be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the Oregon and Washington coastlines, as well as Mounts Rainier and St Helens. A mere 14 miles from Cannon Beach, Saddle Mountain is frequently enshrouded in Pacific-born clouds. But even if you don’t hit the trail under a bluebird sky, the company of white-barked red alders and rare Ice Age-era plants such as Saddle Mountain saxifrage and bittercress provide plenty of inspiration to reach the top.
ROUTE: It’s only 2.5 miles to the summit, but because the trail gains 1,650 feet in elevation, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Begin by climbing to the southeast through a thick, forested tangle of moss- and lichen-covered alders. After one-half mile, you’ll hit a series of switchbacks, then cross a footbridge leading out of the forest below. This is a good place to readjust your shoelaces, as the remaining mile-and-a-half continues over steep terrain and requires nimble feet, a focused mind and the occasional scramble. Several metal walkways and wooden staircases line the final 300 feet to the summit, which is ringed by a wooden fence—a reassuring sight when quads are quaking.
For more information, check out the Summit Mountain State Park trail listing and for maps go to www.oregonstateparks.org
DIRECTIONS: Take U.S. 26 west for 64 miles and look for the large sign marking Saddle Mountain State Park. Turn right at the sign onto Saddle Mountain Rd. The trailhead lies at the end of a winding seven-mile-long road. No fees or permits required.