Park will remain closed summer 2020. We apologize for the disruption. Due to a revenue shortfall, we don’t have enough staff to keep all parks open this summer. Please consider visiting an open park — a complete list is on our status map, and details about this decision are on the COVID-19 response page.
Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is cherished for its hiking trails, wildflowers and breathtaking scenery. A small, seasonal campground, day-use picnic area, a two and a half mile trail to the summit and a short .16 mile side trail are the humble offerings at Saddle Mountain. While it may not seem like much, be prepared to marvel at the sheer volume and quality of natural beauty packed into this park. From a mature forest setting with a variety of habitats; to fields of grassy open “balds” filled with wildflowers; to an open rocky summit; words cannot describe the beauty and wonder experienced on the trail. If the trail’s natural beauty and wildflowers aren’t enough to entice you to the top, the panoramic view from the 3,290-foot summit will. On a clear day you can see the sweep of the Columbia River as it enters the sea, miles of Pacific shoreline- and on the eastern horizon, the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington.
The main trail is steep and difficult in spots, with a 1,640 foot rise in elevation over 2.5 miles. It begins at an elevation of approximately 1,650 feet at the park's parking lot and climbs to a viewing platform with an elevation of approximately 3,290 feet. It is recommended for experienced hikers wearing proper footwear and clothing. Weather conditions can change rapidly, bringing wind and rain year round and snow in winter. Portions of the trail can be slick in wet conditions. The challenge this popular trail provides is well worth the reward. If you aren’t up for the rigorous climb of the main hike, try the short, 10 minute Humbug Mountain viewpoint trail that shoots off from the main trail a quarter mile from the trailhead. For the safety of your dog and courtesy to others, please keep your dog on a leash.
Initially, lands for the park were acquired in 1928 by gift from O. W. and Nellie Taylor. In 1935, the State Land Board gave an additional 1,401.96 acres to the park. In 1938, four tracts were purchased from private owners. Some lands were exchanged with the Crown Zellerbach Corporation between 1977 and 1980. In 1985, 40 acres were purchased from the Oregon Board of Forestry and transferred to the Parks and Recreation Division by the Highway Division. After the Highway Commission obtained the access road right-of-way in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the 7.25-mile road from the Sunset Highway (U. S. 26) to the base of the Saddle Mountain. They also built the trail to the top of the mountain and did other betterment work. In the early 1950s, primitive camping facilities were added. Saddle Mountain was named by Lt. Charles Wilkes, U. S. Navy, in 1841 because of the saddle between the peaks. According to tradition, the Indians called it "Swallalahoost" for a legendary chief who, upon being killed by his enemies, assumed the form of an eagle and created thunder and lightning on the peak. Lewis and Clark referred to the peak as an area for elk hunting in 1805 but did not name it. The park area lies generally at the boundary of territories claimed by Clatsop and Clatskanie tribal groups.