One of the most scenic and popular hikes in Oregon’s Coast Range remains closed and probably won’t reopen until at least next spring.
Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, known for its rare wildflowers and butterflies that adorn the tallest peak in the northern Coast Range, was closed in August 2021 after a footbridge broke and hasn’t reopened.
The park, which has a small campsite, was also closed for about a year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biggest problem preventing reopening has been the trail, said Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Chris Havel.
“The damage in several sections requires significant repair work to both the tread and footbridge,” he said. “Getting everything to line up — availability of labor and materials, weather and resource requirements for things like nesting seasons and cultural concerns — has caused a delay.”
The park, east of Seaside and south of Astoria, and about an hour’s drive from Portland, is popular largely because of the view from the top — hikers can spy Mount Hood, the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River at one summit.
Havel added work crews had been busy due to numerous trails to repair on the northern Oregon Coast.
“On the labor front, there was a lot of trail damage along the coast, and crews were working as fast as they could, and just couldn’t finish everything,” he said. “Some trail folks also pull firefighting duty, which interrupted work again.”
The park is also missing its bathroom.
“A new restroom was backordered until June, and a temporary portable wasn’t a good option because of the frequently icy road in spring and summer,” Havel said.
A gate blocks the road to the park currently, and Havel said people are not allowed to ride a bike to the trailhead and hike the trail.
“The park is closed,” he said. “Entering is unsafe, and poses a real problem for both park staff and search-andrescue crews.”
Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. To support his work, subscribe to the Statesman Journal. Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or 503-399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.