Mystery Mary

It’s called Marys Peak, the name of the highest peak in Oregon’s coastal range. The trails surrounding her make for a beautiful day hike. But, who was Mary? How did this lovely place get its name? Marys with no apostrophe? Why wouldn’t she want to own this place?


We tagged along with our son and his wife Sunday to see the peak they’d heard much about but hadn’t yet seen. As the highest peak we hoped we’d see the coast from the top. I’ll get to that.

Marys Peak_1 (3)As we arrived and parked, my daughter-in-law and I scouted for THE most important part of any successful hike: a bathroom. The left side stall had TP.  Bless you, Mary.

While it’s not hard to figure out the trails–they are not clearly marked–each begin and start from the parking lot. You literally can’t get lost, not here, unless one slips and rolls down a hill. NOT saying I got lost. NOT saying I slipped. Just sayin’.

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Service road to the top

From Corvallis the prospect of clear skies was bleak, but once up the hill, it was gloriously clear.

There is nothing like being above the clouds. It does something for the soul. I’m not sure what, but it seems other worldly, out of body, maybe spiritual. My saggy skin soul could use a lift. I was in. I felt fabulous even before we hit the trail (although that could have been my elation to find toilet paper at the top). Life is good.

Marys Peak_1 (2)Heartened by clear skies and “sunshine on my shoulders,” we meandered to the top. (Uh, oh…now I can’t get that John Denver song out of my head. I’m not rewriting that line. It stays. Well, I did not include audio of my singing. You’re welcome).

Marys Peak_1 (9)And, well, about the view of the gorgeous Oregon coast? Not this day, not at this time. I don’t get to see my first born that often, so I’ll gladly settle for this view. Any day.

Dead center up top we found fenced off satellite and cell phone equipment. Beside the wonders of that, all the area above 3,000 feet is designated a botanical area, the trails sprinkled with old growth (like me).

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Looking toward a cloudy west coast

After hiking to the summit first, we hit the trail for our descent.

Marys Peak_1 (10)Old man winter took its toll, but, we begin again; yellow life hugs the hillside.

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Marys Peak_1 (15)The trail meandered through flower-filled meadows. Thoughts of must-come-back-and-see-soon began floating in my head (better than focusing on those funny glasses and hat up there on those old people).

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Much of the trail: dense with floral ground cover

While more threaten to bloom soon, several weren’t so shy:

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Marys Peak_2 (2)More so than the blooms greeting us along the way, this star gave me pause. Have you ever seen markings like this? Was I experiencing a lack of oxygen?

Marys Peak_2 (8)Mt. Hood sits to the left, Jefferson is right of center. Three Sisters (not in view) live to the right of Jefferson.

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The last leg of the trail

Seems that our Mary is a mystery. We don’t know why her name graces this lovely peak. Here’s what Wiki has to say:

“In October 1845, Joseph C. Avery arrived in Oregon from the east.[8] Avery took out a land claim at the mouth of Marys River where it flows into the Willamette River and in June 1846 took up residence there in a log cabin hastily constructed to hold what seemed a potentially lucrative claim.[8] Avery’s primitive 1846 dwelling was the first home within the boundaries of today’s Corvallis and his land claim included the southern section of the contemporary city.[9]

Avery was quickly joined by other settlers along the banks of the Willamette River, including a 640-acre claim directly to his north taken in September 1846 by William F. Dixon.[9] The discovery of gold in California in 1848 temporarily stalled development of a township, with Avery leaving his Oregon claim to try his hand at mining in the fall of that year.[9] His stay would prove to be brief and in January 1849 Avery returned to Oregon with a small stock of provisions with a view to opening a store.[9]

During the year 1849, Avery opened his store at the site, platted the land, and surveyed a town site on his land claim, naming the community Marysville.[10] It is possible that the city was named after early settler Mary Lloyd, but now the name is thought to be derived from French fur trappers’ naming of Marys Peak after the Virgin Mary.[11]” (According to Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvallis,_Oregon).

She’s a mystery, our Mary. Seems sources vary about the origin of the name, even which Mary the area is named after. We still don’t know why the missing apostrophe. If this were named after me, I’d most certainly write it as Karen’s Peak. Oh, yeah. Marys Peak? This is just wrong. The grammar police along the trail had a fit. Regardless, it was a lovely hike, our second of the season, and we hope to head that way again when the earth is sprouting more color.

Still, Mary, about that missing apostrophe…


It really doesn’t matter as long as she keeps the bathroom fully stocked.