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Seaside Stories

Your Home Base for Saddle Mountain Hikes

February 20, 2024 | by Matt Wastradowski

Multitudes of wildflowers. Glorious ocean and mountain vistas. Some of the nicest trail time in the Coast Range. Reopened in 2023 after a nearly three-year closure for repair and rejuvenation, Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is once again open to the public. The rocky monolith — just a 20-minute drive east of Seaside on Highway 26 — welcomes visitors old and new for some of the North Coast’s most popular natural areas. 

If the park is on your bucket list, here’s what to know about making a Seaside adventure getaway, complete with recommendations for post-hike bites, outdoor activities and overnight stays. 

Wildflowers at Saddle Mountain (Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks)

Hike Around Seaside

Saddle Mountain’s summit hike measures about 5 miles round-trip — with roughly 1,900 feet of elevation gain — for a solid day of hiking. The payoff is well worth it, with a 360-degree view that includes the Pacific Ocean to the west and the craggy peaks of the Cascades to the east. Since this hike is popular on a sunny weekend, staying in Seaside allows you to easily start your hike before 9 a.m. for a bit more solitude.

On this spectacular hike, enjoy occasional views of nearby Humbug Mountain while ascending through thick forests of Douglas fir. Near the summit, find meadows of rare wildflowers that bloom between late April and June. You may notice repaired sections of trail, new vault restrooms and other components of the work completed in the park. Note that the campground that once sat at the base of Saddle Mountain has been removed.

Saddle Mountain is just one of many outdoor adventures around Seaside, so feel free to stick around for a few days and explore the area. South of downtown, the Tillamook Head traverse hike totals 6.3 miles round-trip and features 1,350 feet of elevation gain as it ascends through a moss-covered forest of weathered Sitka spruce. Highlights include World War II building remnants along the trail and views of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse — popularly known as “Terrible Tilly” — which sits on a basalt sea stack just offshore.

Looking for a quick, low-key adventure? In the heart of downtown, Wheel Fun Rentals at Quatat Park offers watercraft rentals on the Necanicum River between March and October, with options that include single and tandem kayaks for quiet bird-watching outings, pedal-powered swan boats, and more. For fun on solid ground, ride the Seaside Promenade with a cruiser or four-seat surrey rental — available year-round — from Prom Bike Shop

Osprey Cafe

Relax With These Post-Adventure Bites and Stays

Refuel after your outdoor adventures with ocean-to-table seafood at Bell Buoy of Seaside — which, for more than 75 years, has sourced most of its seafood from within 50 miles — or surf and turf at Finns Fish House, where you can relax on the patio around one of the natural-gas fireplaces. If you got an early start on the day’s fun, grab a late breakfast or lunch from Osprey Café, whose globe-trotting menu includes chilaquiles, Indonesian fried rice and pork-belly bánh mì alongside more familiar breakfast classics. 

Toast to the day’s adventure over beers at End of the Trail Public House on Broadway, with regional wines at CHēZ — a few blocks from downtown in a quaint converted house — or at River Bar in the Rivertide Suites hotel, with views of the nearby Necanicum River. The old-school Times Theatre & Public House sits in the heart of downtown and offers sporting events, its own house-brewed Sisu Beer, burgers and other pub-fare favorites.

You’ll sleep well wherever you choose to stay in Seaside. Situated at the base of Tillamook Head south of downtown, beachfront Lanai at the Cove has luxurious condo-style units with kitchenettes and stunning ocean views. SaltLine Hotel offers private balconies, spa services and a saltwater pool just a few steps from the Seaside Promenade and the Pacific Ocean. Budget-minded travelers appreciate Seaside Lodge & International Hostel, which sits along the Necanicum River and offers a mix of private rooms and dorm beds. Canoe and kayak rentals are available for an added fee.

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