After arriving in Portland for our 2018 summer trip we considered heading out to the coast on the first day. It was a day that we couldn’t really hike because we weren’t checked into our Air BnB and we thought it would be fun to see Haystack rock. Plans changed quickly when our hosts said we could check in early, my sister reminded me that it was a long drive and the kids said they didn’t want a day with mostly travel.
Instead we stayed in Portland, selecting the Japanese garden as our excursion and later we enjoyed dinner with my sister and Adam. But this meant that we had to decide on a hike for the next day. Portland was in the middle of a heat wave, so it seemed ideal to head to the coast where temperatures are cooler.
After debating whether to tackle the Elk-Kings traverse again (we did this when the kids were little and it is a very challenging hike) we selected the more moderate Saddle mountain hike. It would be new terrain and would allow us ample time to run later and enjoy the beach. Best laid plans ….
Saddle mountain it is!
For some crazy reason I kept reading about the Saddle mountain hike in the car, looking up different pages to tell the family more about what to expect. It was during this time that I discovered that the trail was closed temporarily due to a washed out bridge. Yikes! There were really no other hikes to select in that area as a back-up. It was later in the morning than we’d have liked to do a longer hike, but we realized we had to divert soon and head toward Elk-Kings or we’d be planning a day just to hang out on the coast.
Yikes: trail is closed
We assessed our food. Some trail mix. 6 liters of water. Krave beef jerky. We’d be fine for a longer hike but we didn’t have a ton of food with us. Scott and I were both wearing our King Mt. trail shoes – it seemed like it was meant to be.
After some twisting and turning on roads we arrived at the Kings Mountain trailhead. Scott really wanted to do the entire traverse and to be honest, I did too. However, one thing I’ve acquired as I get older is more of an understanding of the desires of other people and an ability to read the situation. It was late – almost 10 am. This traverse could take 8 hours. We had snacks but not anything that would be considered lunch or dinner for that matter and it was our first day here. After reading the description we wisely chose to take the shorter and less exposed route up Kings Mountain, ditching the idea of the traverse connecting to Elk mountain. All the exposure was on Elk mountain and in order to start with that mountain we’d have to do a 4 mile hike over to the base and then begin the ascent. Once we started we’d be committed.
The magical forest of E.T.
Our hike began in the world of the E.T. forest. This is my favorite part of Kings mountain! Excited to be in Oregon on trail we bounded along this lovely flat forested portion of the hike.
Soon we left the forest and started our ascent up King mountain. The trail is only 2.46 miles but ascents 2546 vertical feet. We went through switchback after switchback on the dusty trail, stopping occasionally to catch our breath.
The photo below is one of the only pictures we got of the ascent. We were busy hiking and not thinking so much about photos. This hike helped us learn that it was indeed not appropriate for Elizabeth to be wearing her old running shoes for hiking in Oregon. At the end of this day we stopped into Roadrunner Sports in Portland to get her proper trail shoes!! The descent was really challenging for her with her very little tread on her shoes.
Soon we arrived at the top and enjoyed some of our trail mix and beef jerky. The funny thing was that when we picked it out both kids said, “No way am I eating that.” On the mountain, Xander tried it and promptly ate most of the bag!
We are almost to the top! Scott beat us by a little bit so he was enjoying the views as he waited for us to ascend.
Our view from the summit was lovely if a bit hazy.
Scott stayed up at the top to get a picture of us all heading down. It was right at this top part that we realized that Elizabeth’s shoes were going to be a problem. I was incredibly grateful that we chose just to do Kings mountain and not the whole traverse when I realized how slippy her shoes were.
After our very long descent; the steepness made it so that the descent took as long or longer than the trip up the mountain, we had to head to the coast. After all, we weren’t going to make this trek again!! The rest of our time we planned to be hiking out toward Mt. Hood. So we hopped into the car to begin the hour drive up to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock. I was SO disappointed when I saw that parts of the coast were foggy. Some portions were very clear so I just hoped we’d hit a clear part when we were near our destination. It was not meant to be though. We spent just a few minutes on the chilly, foggy beach! You can see the bottom of Haystack rock in our photos.
Pelican Brewing for a delicious meal to end the day
We finished our day off with a giant meal at Pelican Brewing, complete with some delicious beer! If you ever find yourself near one of their 3 locations, definitely try the fish tacos. Delicious!!
Of course nothing would be complete without our Strava track from the day!! Want another perspective of this hike? Read Scott’s report.