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Saddle Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
The saddle and summit of Saddle Mountain (cfm)
Copperbush (Cladothamnus pyroflorus) can be found along the trail (cfm)
Mountain meadow knotweed (Polygonum bistortoides), Saddle Mountain (bobcat)
Alice Eastwood's fleabane (Erigeron aliceae), Saddle Mountain (bobcat)
Trail marker, Saddle Mountain Trail (cfm)
Switchbacking trail to the summit of Saddle Mountain Courtesy: Caltopo/MapBuilder Topo
  • Start point: Saddle Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Saddle Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 5.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 1900 feet
  • High point: 3,282 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: April through November
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

NOTICE: The Saddle Mountain Trail closed in August 2021 due to a broken footbridge. The trail is also damaged in several places and requires significant repair work. No reopening date has been announced.

Mountaintop views that reach from the Pacific Ocean to Mount Hood and three Washington stratovolcanoes await you on this steep climb to the top of a double-peaked summit of basalt. The mountain is formed from the same basalts that are such a dominant feature of the Columbia River Gorge. Fifteen million years ago, when these lava flows reached what was then the Astoria Sea, they fizzed and exploded and created a great mound of breccia that remains the most distinctive prominence at the northern end of Oregon's Coast Range. The upper part of the mountain is decorated with expansive but steeply sloping wildflower meadows from mid-spring into summer. Bear in mind that this hike is justifiably extremely popular. Try to get to the trailhead early or make the excursion during the week if you can.

From the parking area, the trail begins in the campsite area. Get on the paved trail, and bear left past a trail sign and map, passing several walk-in campsites. The pavement soon ends, and you will enter a lush forest of red alder, with salmonberry lining the path. Huge stumps are all that remain of the massive conifers that once thrived on these lower slopes. After 0.2 miles, you have an option to take a short spur trail to the right for the Humbug Mountain viewpoint, but you will also see Humbug Mountain from the Saddle Mountain summit as well.

Soon the alders will be replaced with Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce as you pass a 1/4 mile marker, cross a footbridge, and switchback up the hillside. The trail skirts around sedum-covered house-sized boulders composed of volcanic breccia, a preview for the upper portion of the hike. Traverse up, switchback three more times, and then cross a grassy slope blooming with nodding onions and desert parsley. The tread reenters Douglas-fir woods and switchbacks through an area of blowdown before crossing another footbridge and switchbacking up four times. At the third switchback, there’s a distinctive basalt dike that heads down from the trail. Soon you'll reach an open rocky slope and switchback again. From here, the trail is frequently held in place by a wire mat. Little seeps are home to two endemic species, the Saddle Mountain bittercress and Saddle Mountain saxifrage. Heading up on an open slope, you can see the rocky spine of the mountain above. The trail switchbacks at a silver fir and rises up an open slope to switchback again at a breccia pillar. Two more switchbacks take you through wildflower meadows and Sitka alder thickets blooming with larkspur.

After this, you'll traverse downward, reach a footbridge, and then ascend again. Switchback twice more, and then head up towards the mountain’s spine with its woodland of Sitka spruce, noble fir, and silver fir. A couple more switchbacks take you past a picnic table, and then you'll begin o get open views. After it passes across a rocky meadow that blooms with paintbrush, lewisia, and woolly sunflower in summer, the trail drops and then traverses up on an open slope. Next, descend a steep wooden staircase, passing more basalt dikes and reaching a saddle where there's a copse of noble firs. The trail now heads steeply up on a mesh wire tread. Switchback three times in and out of Sitka alder thickets to reach open slopes and pass the 2 1/2 mile marker. Wind up in open meadows blooming with cliff anemone, tufted saxifrage, mountain meadow knotweed, Oregon larkspur, paintbrush, spreading phlox and long-spurred violets in early summer. The track has been rerouted to bypass eroded trail gullies. Near the summit, a spur leads right along an exposed ridge to a copse of noble fir and a sheer drop off. The summit, a former lookout site, is fenced in and the views are expansive on a clear day.

Across the saddle is the southeastern peak of Saddle Mountain, only 16 feet lower than the summit you are standing on. Looking towards the ocean, you can see Nehalem Bay, Onion Peak, Tillamook Head, Clatsop Spit, the Astoria-Megler Bridge across the Columbia River, and the Willapa Hills. Marys Peak is the most prominent Coast Range peak far to the south. Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson in the Oregon Cascades are often visible, as well as the Washington summits of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, Goat Rocks, and Mount Adams. On very clear days, you can see the Olympic Mountains to the north.


Regulations, Facilities, etc.

  • Dogs on leash (Because of the mesh fencing tread on the upper half of the trail, this hike is not recommended for dogs.)
  • Restrooms, picnic area, information kiosk, primitive campground

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking from Portland to the Coast by James D. Thayer
  • Oregon Hiking by Matt Wastradowski
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • 75 Hikes in Oregon's Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • Hike America: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

More Links


  • CFM (creator)
Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.