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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Neahkahnie Mountain

One doesn't usually think about climbing mountains when heading towards ocean beaches.  But along the Oregon coast lies many tall headlands, some rising over a thousand feet above the waves.


Dense coastal forest

Neahkahnie Mountain is one of the most well known.  Located on the northern Oregon Coast, just south of Oswald West State Park, it rises 1600 feet above the sea.  Named by the local coastal Indians, Ne ("place of") and Ekahni ("supreme deity") meant this viewpoint was fit for gods.  Reaching the summit is a popular coastal hike.  But - believe it or not - it was one trail I'd yet to visit.


Part of my route

One Friday in early August, I decided to check Neahkahnie Mountain off my list.  However, spending the morning babysitting our injured dog (nothing major, just a cut on his paw) meant a late start.  It was nearly 3:00 pm by the time I reached the trailhead.


My path went through this tree!

There's many ways to reach Neahkahnie's summit.  One can drive halfway up the mountain's south side, and take a 2 mile path.  Or, visitors can start at a trailhead to the north accessed by an auto pull out on Hwy 101.  But I decided to take the long way, starting at Oswald West State Park, and hiking the Oregon Coast Trail nearly two miles before reaching the Hwy 101 trailhead.


A clearing with ocean views

It was a sunny, warm afternoon as I started out from a packed parking lot.  Three school bus loads of kids were crowding the trail to the beach, and I was more than happy to branch off on the Oregon Coast Trail.  This path crossed a cool suspension bridge over a creek, and headed uphill through thick coastal forests.


The "official" trailhead

Although I thought the Hwy 101 trailhead was only 1.5 miles from the state park, this path through the forest seemed to take forever.  I came out into a wide clearing, that provided great views of the coastline and ocean below.  But lack of trees made for a hot trek!


Pretty white flowers line the path

Finally I began to hear traffic.  Trudging up a steep slope, I was happy to arrive at the "official" north trailhead off of US 101.  While waiting to cross the highway, I noticed a young couple on bicycles parking in the auto pull out. 


Nice ocean views

Safely traversing the highway, I now had two miles and 1200 feet of climbing ahead of me. The trail wasted no time rocketing upward, and it didn't take long before I was sweating and gasping for breath.  But fantastic ocean views spread out below were well worth the extra effort.


Blue waters

After crossing a clearing, the trail plunged into dense coastal forest.  I marveled at the huge number of ferns lining the ground, and the enormous trees rising high into the sky.


Many ferns line the forest floor

On some parts of the path, tree roots rose to the surface, creating intricate patterns.  However, they also made for treacherous footing.  My pace slowed as I kept a close eye on where I stepped.


Tree roots make for a treacherous trail

Stopping to capture a few photos, I heard voices, and noticed someone following me.  It turned out to be the biking couple I'd seen back at the highway.  A brief conversation revealed these young folks were from Montreal, and planned to bike the West coast from Anacortes WA to San Francisco.  They'd taken a break in their ride to climb Neahkahnie Mountain.


Foggy forest near the summit

The couple, being much younger and fitter than I, easily loped ahead.  Once again alone on the trail, I continued my climb through the warm, humid woods.  Nearing the top, I was enveloped by a bank of thick fog.  Oh no!  I climb up to high places for the rewarding views.  Was I going to get skunked?


Foxglove

The last half mile seemed to take forever.  I wound around a rocky outcrop, missing the faint summit path, and had to backtrack to find the correct route.  But scrambling up the final pitch, the entire coastline to the south opened up before me.  What an amazing sight!


My reward

The Montreal biking couple were already on top, enjoying a snack.  We again greeted each other and marveled at the views.  After a few minutes, my young friends headed back down, leaving me with the summit all to myself.


Summit selfie

With changing weather forecast for the following day, clouds were already beginning to roll in.  I'd reached the summit in the nick of time.  Not ten minutes later, my wonderful coast panorama began to fade under thick fog.


Battered benchmark

It was so peaceful up there, I didn't want to leave.  But it was past 6:00, and I had a long four miles of descending ahead of me.  With clouds rolling in, and sunset coming earlier, I didn't want to get caught out here in the dark.


Fading daylight

So I packed up my things, and hit the trail.  Although there was no more strenuous climbing involved, the path was steep and littered with rocks and roots.  I cautiously picked my way downhill, gingerly avoiding these treacherous trip hazards.  Progress was much slower than anticipated.


Oxalis

My return trip seemed to take forever.  Finally, Hwy 101 came into view.  But - this was only the halfway point.  I still had to travel the Oregon Coast Trail back to Oswald West State park. And light was quickly beginning to fade from the sky.


Purple thistle

In the open field, I took a wrong turn, and ended up at a lovely overlook perched over the ocean.  If not for the increasing clouds, views would have stretched miles out to sea.  But despite the limited visibility, steep cliffs and pounding waves made for a few great photo ops.  However, with night coming quickly, I couldn't linger very long.


Ocean overlook

I finally reached my car just as the last light was fading from the sky.  I sent a quick text message to my hubby so he wouldn't worry, and wearily climbed into my car for the hour and a half drive home.

But despite the late hour, and long afternoon, I'm glad to have carved out the time to finally climb this great coastal mountain.  (But next time, I'm taking the shorter route!)

Stats:  8.5 miles round-trip, 1500 feet elevation gain


Sharing with:  Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.

32 comments:

  1. So much beauty in your walk, Linda!!! And I love your summit selfie! :)

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  2. Well, I've climbed a lot of mountains but never had views like that from the top - plenty of foggy ones mind. I love all the little details you spot along the trail; if you were going faster you'd probably miss some of those.

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  3. Loved your post and all your wonderful captures. I've only been part way.. very short part way, but it's really gorgeous. Thanks for taking us along on your wanderings!

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  4. I love the fact that you have deep forests there where you can roam and explore, and then every once in a while you get this amazing sneak peak at the ocean, until you arrive at the overlook where the sights just lay there in front of you.

    Mersad
    All new Through My Lens is up now! - Mersad Donko Photography

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  5. Such lovely coastal vistas! For your "my reward" photo, you brought me back to hiking in Maui for a split second. I know I would love hiking the trails you have out your back door! Thank you for taking us along on this one.

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  6. Hello Linda, I always enjoy reading about your hikes. And the scenery and view of the coastline are just awesome. Oregon is a beautiful state! Lovely photos! Thanks for taking me along. I hope your pup is healing. Enjoy your Sunday and the new week ahead!

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  7. Beautiful coastal forest, great views and the ocean all in one package! You are a lucky lady!

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  8. Hee, hee...we did the shorter route last September! And would you believe we actually saw a rough skinned newt on that trail! There is a nice beach loop (6 miles I think) at Oswald West that was neat on a drippy day. Right now I am missing the damp coast just a little...

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  9. Oh wow, Linda, those fern-covered walks in the trees and the views of the sea from the top. What more can one ask for? Thanks for sharing this trail with me. Greetings. Jo

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  10. That's an awesome hike - the views are really tremendous. You got to the top just in time! I really need to visit this coastline.

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  11. Hello Linda,
    a beautiful way with fantastic panoramic views ...
    greetings Frank

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  12. Linda, you have some gorgeous places to hike!

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  13. What a gorgeous area. You capture it beautifully. And I love the selfie pic!

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  14. What a beautiful hike! You did good to do 8 plus miles in less than six hours and still stop to take photos! :)

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  15. You were lucky not to get caught out in the failing light. I know I wouldn't start an unfamiliar walk so late in the afternoon but I'm glad you did as though photos of the views are fabulous.

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  16. What awonderful trailthis isand Iamsopleased you reached thetopwiththe magnificent view in the nickof time, Loveall the trees, ferns adn wwild flowers you found on the trail. Thaks for sharing. Have a good week ahead.

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  17. Gorgeous views of the ocean and the cliffs!

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  18. So beautiful!
    Have a great week!

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  19. High sea cliffs are always great fun and it's even better when you get that magical mix of mist and clear views.
    Some great photos of the coastline and I'm learning a lot about Oregon.

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  20. Oh my gosh the views here were just amazing and gorgeous. What a wonderful hike this was. I loved seeing your fabulous photos.

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  21. It is so beautiful I can't believe how beautiful. Thank you for sharing this wonderful hike with me. You were lucky with the weather, that's for sure. Starting a four-mile-long trek at 6:00pm was just a bit on the scary side, to me. :-)

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  22. The ferns, the tree roots, the ocean views! WOW!

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  23. These scenes are awesome!! I always heard your part of the country was beautiful and it i :) Glad you are out and about again.

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  24. Love the selfie, and the path through the trees. What an artistic looking tree. What amazing places to hike you have in 'your neck of the woods.'

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  25. I can see why you would not want to leave - what a great place.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  26. Hi! It's very luxury climbing. You can enjoy both nice forest views and ocean views at the same time. " Nice Ocean views" and "My Reward" photos are breathtakingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. Gostei das fotografias e do blog.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.
    http://andarilharar.blogspot.pt/

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  28. Looks like a great hike - nice pictures

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  29. What a lovely hike! May have to see about putting that one on my todo list at some point. Love love love your photos of the area - both far away and close up.

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  30. What an amazing feat this was to do so late in the day, Linda! I'm glad you made the complete trip in time before all the light faded. There were recently hikers in Colorado who had to spend an overnight on a mountain trail, as they lost track of time and were caught descending at dusk. Their families were so worried! The views from on top of this trail were magnificent. The fog added to the beauty! The Oregon coast is so beautiful --I hope to see it one day.

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