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Beacon Rock State Park - Hamilton Mountain

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
View map below

Length

7.5 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2000 ft.
Highest Point: 2400 ft.

Rating

4.32 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2020
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

This hike is full of the best things the Columbia Gorge has to offer: easy access and parking, well-maintained trail, wildflowers galore, two waterfalls, and views to knock off your sweaty socks. It’s a long journey at about 7.5 miles, and steep in places, but nothing a healthy dog, child or senior citizen can’t do. You’ll meet all of these smiling folks on this hike during the peak seasons.

Located in the Columbia River Gorge Natural Scenic Area within Beacon Rock State Park, Hamilton Mountain can be tackled one of two ways. Try hiking it straight up and down for a six-mile roundtrip, or take the loop for a 7.5 mile round trip. Either way, it’s a great trek.

It’s a steady easy pace for the first mile up the wide, well-built trail. In addition to avid hikers from Portland, Vancouver and elsewhere, you’ll encounter incredible old-growth Douglas fir along this stretch. Wildflowers love this mountain, and you might want to check the trail sides for tasty wild strawberries in the late spring.

At one mile in, you’ll likely hear the waterfalls before you see a trail heading down to the Hardy Falls viewpoint. This is a steep little pitch, and the views are mostly obscured by trees, so if you’re into the big cascading falls, keep on going until you see a side trail leading up to Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds.

The upper falls is protected by a rail, but you can get close enough to feel the spray. From here you’ll see the lower falls, so head back down to the main trail and catch the falls from below for some great views and photo ops. The rigid Columbia basalt rock makes its presence known at the falls, as these carved rocks stood the test of time through catastrophic floods and landslides that scoured the gorge for the past 15 million years.

The trail gets a little steeper past the falls, but there are some rugged stairs that help out. At 1.3 miles in, the trail intersects Hardy Creek Trail where the sign declares “Hamilton Mountain - More Difficult” and “Hardy Creek Trail - Difficult”. Take the “More Difficult” route and continue counter-clockwise up the Hamilton Mountain Trail, switchbacking up for a 1400 foot climb to the top. You can take the Hardy Creek Trail for a 3.2 mile route clockwise to the top to complete the loop, but the better route is to take the Hamilton Mountain Trail up. Plus, it’s easier on the knees coming down the Hardy Creek Trail.

When you reach the top of Hamilton Mountain three miles up, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the photo-worthy Cascade peaks, but it you continue another .75 mile northwest on the narrower loop trail, a prominent ridge will provide even better views! Wildflowers are in abundance up here. Most people descend the same way they came up, but for an extra 1.5 net gain in mileage, you’ll explore the west side cool lush forest and likely will have it all to yourself.

The northernmost part of the trail is four miles in, where a well-marked sign points the way to the Hardy Creek Trail, shared with equestrians. From here, you’ll descend along an old road bed part of the way. There are signs of black bear in this lesser-used area, so you might want to make a little noise so as not to surprise any if they happen to be hunting for berries near the trail.

Near Hardy Creek, there is a picnic table and major trail intersection with a trail sign. Take the left trail (southeast towards the Hamilton Mountain Trail) and continue on this hardy trail that boasts tremendous log retaining walls and bridges along the slick hillsides. After 1.4 more miles, you’ll intersect the Hamilton Mountain Trail and will turn right to descend back to the parking area, unless of course you want to climb back up to the top!

 

Beacon Rock State Park - Hamilton Mountain

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.6325, -122.0200 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Nelson & Bauer -- Mountaineers Books)

Hiking Guide to Washington Geology (Carson / Babcock - Keokee) p. 166-168

Buy the Green Trails Bridal Veil No. 428 map

Getting There

From Camas, drive 22 miles east on Highway 14 to the Beacon Rock State Park entrance sign. Pass the ranger station, and look for the next road that angles up the hill to the left (north). It's signed with a brown hiking/camping icon. Turn left off the highway onto that road. After .3 miles, turn right into the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead parking area. You'll see a play structure and a self-serve fee payment station to your left and there are bathrooms at the far side of the parking lot. The trailhead itself is located between the payment station and the bathrooms.

If you're coming from the east on Highway 14, continue 7 miles past the Bridge of the Gods, stay on Highway 14 and turn north at the Beacon Rock State Park sign.

Note: If the lot is full, you can continue up another .1 mile to the day use area parking area which offers spectacular views of Beacon Rock, the core of an extinct volcano. Bathrooms are available at both parking areas. This is a heavily used recreation area and all park access roads are paved.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Beacon Rock State Park - Hamilton Mountain

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