If you are heading out to the coast from Portland, a hike up Saddle Mountain is an absolute must! Just 7 miles off of Highway 26, the giant basalt outcropping is the highest peak in the northern portion of the coast range, and on clear days it offers fabulous panoramic views that stretch from the Cascade Range to the Pacific Ocean.
The trail begins climbing immediately from the parking lot, and some portions of the trail can be quite steep, so bring shoes with good traction. Although the hike is a continuous climb, there are plenty of spots to rest along the way, including picnic tables that are spread out along the trail and vista points that make taking a breather well worth the time. Hiking through stands of red alder, second-growth Sitka spruce and noble fir, the lower section of the trail is dotted with an incredible variety of wildflowers, including pink fawn lily, Pacific bleeding heart and western trillium. Once farther up the trail, take a close look at the basalt, as it hosts a coral-like landscape of unique grasses, mosses and sedums.
The Saddle Mountain State Natural Area also offers 10 walk-in campsites sprinkled around the trailhead, with amenities including restrooms (without showers), running water, picnic tables and built-in fire rings. Camping is only $5 per night.