I got out towards the end of June for one of the best hikes in the Columbia Gorge, Hamilton Mountain in Beacon Rock State Park.
It’s really a hike that has it all: a good workout that isn’t a killer, a beautiful waterfall just a little ways in, a viewpoint on the way up, a little secret side trip to an even better viewpoint, and then it’s a loop — so after the summit you keep going and see some more country.
The trail starts in the upper lot at Beacon Rock State Park, where you will need a Washington State Parks Discovery Pass: $10 for the day, $30 for the season. You can buy one from a machine down on Highway 14. It’s steep at first to the waterfall, then becomes a steady climb to Little Hamilton. Then it gets almost tedious for a bit before the summit.
(Hamilton Mountain, as well as other Columbia Gorge hikes and lots of others, are in my hiking guidebook, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland. Get your signed copy today!)
If you do summit, it isn’t the best view; that would be either from Little Hamilton or the ridge just north of the summit, about a 10-minute walk past it. Great place for lunch! Follow the loop on back, take Don’s Cutoff, and maybe be like my buddy and splash around in the waterfall on your way back.
It’s an 8-mile loop with about 2,200 feet of gain to do the whole thing.
Here are some more pictures from my day on June 22, 2018: