One of my favorite spots in Oregon is Mary’s Peak. It’s the highest point in the Oregon Coast mountain range, topping out at 4096 feet elevation. The Willamette valley rests nearly thirty eight hundred feet below that, making it really dominate the surrounding area.
Even though it’s very tall, it is also very accessible. There is a paved road that climbs from Oregon Highway 34 for a little more than eight miles. Along the road are great views of various plants and trees, some of the surrounding vistas, a few small waterfalls, and all sorts of lovely logging clear cuts. After parking at the end of the road, the summit is just a short hike for the final four hundred and fifty feet elevation gain.
At the top, there is a communications hub, but walk around it, and you’re going to be greeted with magnificent views. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see from Mount Hood down to Mount Thielson, including every mountain in Oregon taller than ten thousand feet. In the image above, you can see Mount Jefferson in the background. If you turn around and face west, on a clear day, you’re going to be able to see to the ocean.
As the sun sets, you’ll see it reflected off of the water. In the evenings, as moisture moves in from the ocean, it gets pushed up over the mountains, forming wonderful looking clouds like this:
I’ve been to the summit several times now, and I always end up spending quite a bit of time just soaking in the environment. The last time I was there at sunset, and I could see a fox or coyote off in the distance in the meadow below frolicking around. It was too far away to get a good look (or take a good photo), but it looked like it was having a grand time.
I definitely recommend checking it out if you have the chance. It’s about a two hour drive from Eugene, or thirty minutes to an hour outside Corvallis, off of Oregon Highway 34. If you can be up there at sunset, that’s a really good time. IF you’re there earlier in the day, continue on out the the coast. You’ll follow the Alsea river and come out at Waldport. It’s a beautiful road.