Saddle Up


Saddle up the Palomino, the sun is going down.

The way I feel,

this must be real.

Continuing my hiking adventure in late May, I left the Sandstone Lake Trailhead and drove to Saddle Mountain, the highest point in Northwest Oregon at 3,283 feet. This is a very popular hike, especially in the spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. Many of the flowers are very rare due to the isolated alpine environment. And, the remains of old lava flows and basalt dikes are very evident along the Trail. This is one of the most unusual and interesting locations in the Pacific Northwest.

It is not a very long hike at 5 1/2 miles roundtrip, but it is steep, rocky and somewhat exposed in places. The cumulative elevation gain is 1,940 feet, but the Oregon State Park Service has done a good job of providing stair steps, mesh over rocky stretches, cables on the steep climbs and a few picnic tables along the way for the weary.

The Trail begins through a stretch of alder trees, then quickly begins to switchback up the mountain. After 1 1/2 miles the Trail enters the upper meadows, dropping to a saddle after another three-fourths mile. At this point the parking lot is visible 1,200 feet below. The last one-half mile is a steep climb to the summit with the best views in Northwest Oregon. The Oregon Coastal beaches stretched for miles and the City of Astoria seemed to be only a short walk away. Finally, I reluctantly bid adieu and took the scenic hike back to the Trailhead. What a nice day – – – a pretty lake and a wildflower-covered mountain. Life doesn’t get much better.

White-crowned Sparrow enjoying the views

Summit Block of Saddle Mountain

Vivid Paintbrush in the midst of Valerian

Hikers on one of the high ridges along the trail

Coastal Trout Lilies

Snake in the grass

Chocolate Lilies

                                    The distinctive saddle of Saddle Mountain
Categories: Oregon Coastal Mountain HikingTags: , , , ,

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