I've looked at this butte every time I've hiked Saddle Mountain so a bunch of us finally decided to hike it. Not much out there in the way of field/trip reports ... just one on Summit Post and one here on OH by Sean Thomas. A search mostly pulls up a lot of articles about Humbug Mountain on the southern Oregon coast, which of course was not the one we wanted.
Locating the gate required a couple of u turns on Hwy 26 between mile post 14 and 12 until we were able to find it. Right side of Hwy 26 heading west. GPSFly below should be all you need. Just past the David Douglas Park sign. Which is not really a "park". More like a stand of trees.
We parked outside the gate and began the trek, not knowing what to expect ... or where we were really going. One good thing is cell service is 4 bars all the way. We were able to use our phones to locate our position, and since these are all wide logging roads, they were easy to see on satellite view.
This particular hike is on private land (Lewis and Clark Timber) but the signs clearly indicate hikers welcome. There's a lot of views of clearcuts obviously, but also many beautiful vistas. The path takes you through a clear cut as well which I've never done. Kind of eery ... in a MSH blast zone kind of way. Lots of bleached stumps.
There's one fork we came to where we went right and down (opposed to left and up, which is the correct one to the summit) to explore more of the clearcutting. A herd of elk sensed us coming from literally a mile away and took off, their hooves echoing from the valley floor. It was very cool.
A view of Saddle I would guess not many have seen:
A lot about this hike was cool. So cool we all decided we would do it again and go further into the maze of logging roads next time.
After turning around when there was no obvious way to reach the summit from where we were, we went back to the fork and headed up the road that leads to the summit. This is where all the gain is. And where the views start.
An inversion layer in the valley headed up ...
A logged ravine ...
Another view of Saddle ... I wonder how many are looking at us from over there because there are just the 4 of us with his view. Not a soul out there with us the entire time.
En route there was this amazing catwalk that jutted out from the road. First part:
We took it to the edge where it began to descend into the vally, later finding out via the GPS that there is potentially a way up from the place where we turned around earlier, though we could never have seen this from below. Maybe a future hiking route. It'll be a slog though.
At the top there is the tower and some fencing with views to the southwest and even more peaks that got us thinking. With the gorge being out of commission, you have to improvise. There's a lot out this way that can really be interesting. I took a page out of Chip's book and brought a beer (homebrew) and enjoyed it at the summit.
I highly recommend this one. Nobody really knows about it so it's very secluded ... and it's a great change of pace seeing the perspective of a logging operation at eye level and above. And the pictures don't do justice to the views of Saddle Mountain. Not to mention it was just a gorgeous day.
7.5 miles with the detour we took. About 2,000 EG total. What surprised was our time. We're usually quick. But there is so much to see we found ourselves stopping much more than usual.
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Thanks for the report and the GPS track. I did this hike yesterday, following a series of excellent geocaches. There was bright sunshine and I had clear views of Rainier, St Helens, and Adams and of Nehalem Bay. I was surprised that the road was under three inches of snow starting just above the catwalk; my summer boots got wet.