Saddle Mountain State Natural Area

Near Seaside, Oregon, United States

Park Overview

Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is cherished for its rare wildflowers and stunning viewpoint at the 3,290-foot summit.

The main trail begins in a picnic area and zigzags through mature old growth forest to a final accent up grassy slopes to the rocky peak. On a clear day, the panoramic view includes the sweep of the Columbia River as it enters the sea and miles of Pacific shoreline to the west; to the east, the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington frame the horizon. 

The main trail is steep and difficult in spots, with a 1,640-foot rise in elevation over 2.5 miles. Check our trail map for details. The hike 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. 

If you aren’t up for the rigorous climb, 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 as a courtesy to others, please keep your dog on a leash (max 6').

Campground

Closed for repairs

  • Open seasonally, March - Oct
  • 10 primitive, walk-in tent sites

Ice Age Past

Saddle Mountain, the tallest mountain in Clatsop County, formed during the Miocene when a large lava flow of Columbia River basalt touched the ancient sea. Steam explosions caused by the hot rock hitting the cold water broke the rock into a giant pile of basalt fragments. This resulted in thin, rocky soils at the highest elevations, supporting diverse meadows full of wildflowers. Saddle Mountain is believed to have served as a refuge for many plant species during the last Ice Age. 

Rare Species at Saddle Mountain

Some of the rarest and oldest species of wildflowers, lichens, and mosses in the northern Oregon Coast Range can be found at the top of Saddle Mountain. A few, such as Saddle Mountain bittercress and early blue violet, are found almost nowhere else. The violet, in turn, is the main food source for the threatened silverspot butterfly

This uncommon habitat affords the property the highest level of protection as a State Natural Area.

Here are just a few of the special animals and plants found on the mountain:

  • Silverspot butterfly, reintroduced in 2018
  • Cope's giant salamander
  • Saddle Mountain bittercress
  • Alaska long-awned sedge
  • Willamette Valley larkspur
  • Frigid shootingstar
  • Hairy wildrye
  • Wandering daisy
  • Queen-of-the-forest
  • Western red avens
  • Rosy lewisia
  • Saddle Mt. saxifrage
  • Bristly-stemmed sidalcea
  • Numerous rare mosses, liverworts, and lichens
Effective Jun 1, 2021 – Jun 30, 2031
Saddle Mountain Trail is steep, rugged and difficult, especially near the summit. PLEASE -  EXPERIENCED HIKERS WITH PROPER FOOTWEAR AND EQUIPMENT ONLY! Take it slow, watch where and how you place your feet and do not attempt the hike while under the influence of intoxicants. 

The park does not provide drinking water; come prepared with plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. 
Effective Mar 19, 2021
Campground is closed for sewer and water repairs. 

mdi-white-balance-sunny Open for day use Year Round mdi-cellphone Call for info: 800-551-6949
Call park: 503-812-0650
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Amenities & Features

Questions

mdi-help-circle-outline Day use/Special Events

I want to reserve part of the park for an event, commercial filming, construction, or other special use. What do I need to do?

Special events and nontraditional activities require a special use permit.

OPRD does not issue special use permits of any kind at this park for events that take place between the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.

For more questions, review our statewide FAQ

History

Early 20th-century park explorers described Saddle Mountain as a “strikingly picturesque pile of cliffed and chasmed rock.” Lewis and Clark mention the mountain in their Dec. 17, 1805 journal entries, depicting it as “ruged and uneavin” and a good area for elk hunting. U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes named Saddle Mountain in 1841 for the low, saddle-like curve between two peaks. 
 
The peak is a feature in Native American tribal legends — the Clatsop Tribe called the mountain “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. The park area lies generally at the boundary of territories claimed by Clatsop and Clatskanie tribal groups.
 
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.
 
 

Brochures and Maps

mdi-file-pdf-box Saddle Mountain Trail Guide

Photos & Video