On June 3, 2017 I took a weekend trip down to the Columbia Gorge with the Over 40 Single Hikers and Adventurers. Most of the group went down for the day but a few camped over Friday night, and a few of us went down on Saturday and Stayed over to do a second hike on Sunday. (I was in the latter group that stayed over Saturday night.)
This trail is at Beacon Rock state Park in Southwest Washington. It was roughly a 3 hour drive early in the morning (with no traffic) from Seattle. If you leave later plan to add extra travel time.
There is a series of trails in this park, so you hike may end up being a different distance depending on which trails you choose. Below is a photo of the map at the trailhead plus park sign with some distances.
Here are the stats from WTA:
7.5 Miles round trip, 2,000 feet elevation gain, highest point 2,400 feet.
Parking pass needed: Discover Pass
Here visit the Washington Trails Association Page for more information about the trail and directions.
When we reached this trail the main parking was full, but there was plenty of parking down the road, which added a short distance to our hike, nothing horrible. It was nice that there was overflow and that there were rangers at the main parking directing traffic. At the trailhead there was a little park for the kids, and a picnic area to make use of after hiking.
The first mile stretch is up a wide well-built trail. There were a ton of wildflowers and some wild strawberries on the trailside which were starting to bloom, but I didn’t see any fruit yet.
At a mile in you will be able to hear the falls, and shortly thereafter you will see the sign heading down to the Hardy Falls viewpoint. This is a steep little pitch, and the views are mostly obstructed by trees, so if you are into big cascading falls continue down the trail until you see a sign leading to Rodney Falls and pool of the winds. The upper falls were pretty impressive. After you are done enjoying the spray, head back down to the main trail which crosses over the lower falls.
As a whole I felt like this trail climbed pretty steadily. I felt like I was more tired than I should have been but I also had insomnia the night before and I think that was affecting my endurance. The trail gets a little steeper past the falls, but the views of the gorge start peeking out and become more and more stunning. At 1.3 miles the Hardy creek trail intersects with the Hamilton Mountain trail (more difficult) follow this route counter-clockwise up the Hamilton mountain trail. There were more flowers along the trail as well, but my camera was not cooperating. When you reach the top of Hamilton Mountain you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the gorge, and if clear cascade peaks. If you continue another .75 miles on the narrower loop trail, a prominent ridge will provide even better views.
From here you can either do an out and back or make a loop, continuing to a shared equestrian trail. Per the WTA site this trail is less used and there are signs of black bear on the trail so if just a few of you make sure to make a little noise so you are not surprising our furry little friends. Don’t miss the turn off back to the Hamilton Mountain Trail. The trail is at a junction where there is a picnic table and a major trail intersection. You want to head southeast here to loop back to the Hamilton Mountain Trail just before the waterfalls.