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Views from the top of northwest Oregon's Saddle Mountain are worth the journey for all ages

The Saddle Mountain Trail, back open after a two-year closure, offers a sweeping view of the Oregon coastline that still inspires generations.

SEASIDE, Ore. — Oregon State Parks recently reopened the Saddle Mountain Park Trail after a two-year closure. The popular hiking trail is prized for its sweeping views of the north Oregon coastline and provides hikers with a rugged challenge.

There’s only one thing better than finding an outdoor adventure and that’s sharing what you’ve found with someone else.

Two Washington county women recently found outdoor adventure and more along a trail to one of the highest points in the Oregon Coast Range, one that leads hikers "High on the Saddle."

Elecia Beebe says that “the doing of the thing,” brings her the greatest joy in life: “I was raised by artist and photographer parents, so I think my art is all genetic!”

On a fine summer morning, with a mountain by her side, Beebe finds a heartfelt joy along a trail that tests her talents.

“You never really see something until you do something like draw it or study what’s going on with it," Beebe said. "I pretty much know where I’m going and start drawing it lightly in pencil and usually the sky is first, and I go from there.”

Elecia and her good friend, neighbor and author Bonnie Shumaker, go to Saddle Mountain Trail often. It’s a day hike that’s about as good as it gets.

Recently, the duo teamed up for something even better! Their book is titled “High in the Saddle.” Elecia provided the artwork and Bonnie wrote the text. It was their opportunity to share their passion for the Oregon outdoors.

“We did the hike together to get it started,” said Bonnie, a retired kindergarten teacher. “I took photographs of the different areas as we went up the trail so I could write about them, and I shared them with Elecia for reference too. It’s a terrific trail because every time you round a corner, you come upon a different group of wildflowers. It’s truly amazing!”

It is a place that Bonnie knows well, ever since her Mom showed her the Saddle Mountain Trail nearly 80 years ago. Her story is told by her younger self and it’s about an elder who takes her grandchild hiking high on Saddle Mountain.

She shared an excerpt: “Coming around a corner I gasp when I spy a momma deer and her twin spotted fawns grazing in an open meadow. I signal to grandma as she rounds the same corner, and she immediately knows to be quiet and still. They keep walking towards us as they eat until finally, they turn off into the woods.” 

While the book offers many specific points of interest and details about the geography and geology, "High on the Saddle" isn’t necessarily a guidebook, according to its author. Rather, Shumaker insists it’s a tale that centers on the passing of information, respect and love for the Oregon outdoors from one generation to the next.

“I think the guiding part is through the characters, that is, the grandmother showing the way to her grandchild, while pointing out particular points of nature, especially the wildlife and wildflowers. It’s about that special family bond between two generations on a journey to a special Oregon landmark.”

These days, Bonnie shares that special bond with her great-granddaughter, 4-year-old Annabelle. The youngster’s enthusiasm and energy for hiking could put seasoned hikers to shame. In fact, she drew an adoring troupe of family and friends up the 2.5-mile trek; leading the way much of the time.

Saddle Mountain dates to a time when a thick layer of Columbia River basalt flowed into the ocean from distant eastern Oregon. Eventually, the ground rose and the mountain was born. Today, the basalt breaks away in chunks, cracks, crevices and bands that show off eons of geologic time.

The Saddle Mountain Trail begins a cool forest stand of mature alder trees and soon opens onto grassy meadows covered in a riot of wildflowers. While water is rare, there are cool springs that seep to replenish a surprising number of wild plants. The flowing water offers a distinct sound that also soothes the soul.

“Well, the trail starts out steeper than you think, and you soon appreciate the many switchbacks that help ease your hike, noted Shumaker. “They also provide fine places to rest, enjoy the view and gather a little more energy before you move on.”

She shared another excerpt: “Soon we’re here at the top. I feel kind of like I did when we saw the deer, proud and strong to have made it to the top but also tiny as an ant compared to all the beautiful things around me. how can I feel big and small at the same time?”

Perhaps that’s due to what Shumaker called “the 50-mile view.” On a clear day, you can see the entire Long Beach Peninsula up north and then all the way to Nehalem Bay to the south.

It is the sort of awesome that will put a smile on your face.

“That’s really the feeling you get when you hike to the top of Saddle Mountain,” added Shumaker with a smile.

Be sure to follow my Oregon adventures via the new Grant’s Getaways Podcast. Each segment is a story-telling session where I relate behind the scenes stories from four decades of travel and television reporting.

You can also learn more about many of my favorite Oregon travels and adventures in the Grant’s Getaways book series, including:

The collection offers hundreds of outdoor activities across Oregon and promises to engage a kid of any age.

You can contact me @ gmcomie@kgw.com

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