|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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.