Saddle Mountain – Oregon

This last weekend my husband and I drove back to our home town for a short getaway. We do this a couple times a year, the drive is short but provides a comfortable change of scenery. Different but not too different.

 ** Mom’s hydrangeas, she has skills**

For these sojourns we stay at my parents house, and spend the majority of our time toddling around the yard with either a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (time of day determines what is in the glass). And that did happen, my Saturday all day hang over is proof that both of those things happened in abundance.

 

**Hunting around parents yard for the missing champagne cork from the night before**

 

One thing that we rarely do when we visit home is hike Saddle Mountain. We hike a lot, in fact we have dedicated entire vacations (plural) in Palm Springs to hiking. But this hike in particular has been overlooked until now. We both hiked it as kids with our families but this was our first trip up together. I was looking forward to the views, and seeing some alpine flowers.

**Alpine flowers at the second summit**

 

Saddle Mountain is a 5.2 mile hike near the Oregon Coast that provides views of the Cascade Mountain range to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The trail takes you through an alder forest, making way to an evergreen forest and eventually taking you to the steep rocky meadows of the dual peaks.

**Where alder forest makes way for evergreen forest**

Once you break out of the forested area the trail will begin to be lined with a chain link fence material to help aid traction on the slippery trail. This didn’t exist when I was a kid, so I was surprised when I saw it and honestly a bit worried I would be careening down the hill the second I stepped on it. Believe it or not, the fencing is incredibly helpful, and can be trusted by the clumsiest of us. In fact the only two times I fell was when I thought the fence trail was too steep and I tried to hike along the side, which quickly resulted me finding myself on my rear-end faster than I could think.

**Looking back toward false summit and basalt cliff**

The views from the false summit are incredible, and there are a couple great photo spots off the trail to look out and down from the basalt cliff. Though I urge you to use caution, and always provide several feet of space between you and the cliffs edge as there are no hand rails.

**This is about as close as I dare get to the edge, hello tree tops!**

Once past the initial summit you will continue to hike down into the saddle. Once again on more fencing trail. It was at this point I thought that my husband might not be human. My legs were burning and shaking and he was literally skipping down the trail. After you get to the bottom of the saddle you get to start back up again for the second summit. Which I honestly thought I was going to die on. I work out, daily and I could only go a few feet without resting. Again husband was whistling and skipping up the switch backs. At one point I told him to just go ahead, no need to witness to my graceless out of breath ascent.

**Heading into the fog**

Five hours later (it was probably only 20 min) I joined him at the second summit to a beautiful view…of fog. We rested for a bit and then made our way back down, slowly. Well me slowly, husband running at mock speed and then stopping every now and again to wait for me. It was humbling.

**Observe husband dashing ahead of me, and mental fencing on trail**

I truly do love this hike, it is a great day trip for the northern Oregon coast region and Portland Metropolitan areas. The alpine flows above the tree line are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, the rocky cliffs are other worldly and the fresh mountain air cannot be beat. The best part is, witnessing the kindness in others I have rarely seen outside of nature. They smile and say hello, step out to let you pass, help you up when you fall, offer water or assistance if you look like you need it.


**Our glorious view from the summit**

 

Things to know about the Saddle Mountain hike before attempting:

  • The turnoff for the park is marked but not well and the highway is incredibly busy, take caution approaching turn off.
  • You will be driving on the park road for what feels like forever before you reach the parking lot. There is only one road, you didn’t miss the turn, just keep going.
  • Be careful to plan around the weather. Half the hike is above the tree line, so weather is felt even in non-extreme cases.
  • If it has rained in the last few days it will be muddy.
  • Wear really good shoes with great traction.
  • Pack water.
  • Go slow.
  • Don’t go too near the edge.

 

Saddle Mountain information links:

http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Saddle_Mountain_Hike

http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=140