I am not sure we had completely dried out after our Hamilton Mountain hike (I know ours shoes hadn’t) but we were back in the “saddle” yesterday for another hike. Saddle Mountain state park was our destination, located in the NW corner of Oregon just 20 miles from the coastal city of Seaside. Saddle Mountain is known for it’s wildflowers and rare plants as well as being the highest point in northwest Oregon.
Once again we were we greeted at the trail head by a layer of low clouds which made for a damp morning. The good news was that there was no wind or rain this time. The trail started out amid salmon and thimble berry bushes in a forest of alders. The trail climbs 1603 feet in just 2.5 miles so the forest and plants changed often. A quick .2 climb to the Humbug Mountain viewpoint provided a view up toward Saddle Mountain’s cloud covered summit.
We returned to the summit trail and headed up through the fog passing multiple meadows full of wildflowers and lush forests. Much like our previous hike, visibility was limited to a couple hundred feet due to the low clouds but the variety of plants and flowers we were encountering kept us entertained. The trail itself was fairly steep and much of it consisted of wire enclosed rocks which looked like it could be slick but we didn’t have any real problems. Several picnic tables were placed along the trail at switchbacks which allowed for breaks from the climb if needed.
As we approached the summit we noticed some very slight breaks in the clouds which gave us hope. We decided to have some lunch and spend some time at the summit hoping that some views would open up. The clouds were actually moving from east to west toward the Ocean which we could now occasionally see through the clouds. We spent over an hour watching the clouds pass by us as better and better views opened up on all sides. Many swallows zoomed about as we waited and a Junco and a crow also stopped by to check us out. As the view opened up to the west was the Pacific, north the city of Astoria, OR and the Columbia River flowing into the Ocean
and to the south the coastal mountains. The only disappointment was that on a clear day the Cascade mountains from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Jefferson would have been visible to the East.
We headed back down now able to see the forest below. The wildflowers became even prettier as the increased light made their colors more intense. We took the side trail to the Humbug Mountain viewpoint again to get the cloudless view of Saddle Mountain before returning to the car.
If you are a wildflower or plant enthusiast this is a great hike, especially from May-July when the flowers are on display. If you can find a clear day (which isn’t easy near the Oregon Coast) the view is a great bonus. Next up is Mount June and yet another attempt at a view of the Cascades. Until then-Happy Trails.
For more info on Saddle Mountain visit: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=140
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