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Hamilton Mountain

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This is a steep, rocky trail leading up past a pair of pretty waterfalls, to a high peak on the western end of the Columbia River Gorge. The views are unmatched: Mount Hood is so close it could almost be touched. The array of waterfalls that crash down the steep walls of the Oregon side of the Gorge present themselves as silver ribbons on the dark-green background of the forested slopes. There's also a slight chance hikers will get to see humans take flight from this peak: Paraglider pilots launch from this high butte, soaring out over the gorge and landing near the river.

The trail leaves the day-use area of the park, cuts under a cluster of powerlines, and then angles out around a ridge face to dip back into a deep river canyon. Here, at about 1.3 miles, you'll pass Hardy Falls and just beyond, Rodney Falls.

Push on past the falls, though, and start climbing steeply northeast. The trail rolls up around sheer cliffs, which present spectacular views over the river. The trail switches back and forth as it nears the summit plateau, then runs straight up the last steep pitch through an expansive field of wildflowers to the true summit of Hamilton Mountain at 2438 feet.

The trail continues across the top of the mountain until, at about 4.5 miles, it turns back to the southwest to begin winding down around the northern ridgeline. You'll drop in long, sweeping switchbacks, generally following an old roadway-turned-trail, to reach upper Hardy Creek at about 5.4 miles. The tumbling creek can often be heard but seldom seen as the trail stays up on the forested valley wall above the creek itself.

As you hike south down the valley, keep an ear open. Blue grouse are frequently heard here in the early summer. The big upland birds drum their wings and bellow out resonating calls of "Whomp, whomp, whomp" to attract mates. If you hear the distinctive call, stop and try to locate its source. The grouse are either stupid or fearless, and you can usually get within a yard of them for pictures.

The trail follows the Hardy Creek valley back to Rodney Falls. You'll rejoin the trail you hiked up just above Rodney Falls, about 7.3 miles into the hike. Turn right to visit Hardy and Rodney Falls before striding back to your waiting car.
Driving Directions:

From I-205 in Vancouver, Washington, drive east on State Highway 14 for 30 miles to Beacon Rock State Park. Turn left (north) and drive up into the day-use parking area.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 29 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Hamilton Mountain — Mar 15, 2014 — Muskrat37
Day hike
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What a perfect day for a hike! Started the day with a quick hike up Beacon Rock. It was a bit c...
What a perfect day for a hike!

Started the day with a quick hike up Beacon Rock. It was a bit chilly, windy, and cloudy in the morning but that would soon change.

The views from the top of Beacon Rock were as amazing as I expected them to be. After a few obligatory pictures, our group headed down for the hike of the day - Hamilton Mountain.

The beginning of the hike on Hamilton Mountain is pretty un eventful, but you know right away that you will be shedding some layers. A mile in, and the clothes were starting to come off.

Hamilton Mountain hike has many view points, and a couple miles in, I mistakenly thought we were at the summit. The views from that first vantage point are amazing!

Continuing past the false summit, you will work to reach the real summit,but your efforts will be rewarded with the amazing waterfal and more spectacular views when you reach the top.

There is no snow left and we had a sunny day for this hike. I strongly recommend this hike to anyone. Great day hike with great spots for lunch at the top.
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Hamilton Mountain — Mar 08, 2014 — hikerchris
Day hike
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Parked at trail head near entrance to Beacon Rock and headed out for a great day hike. Water falls ...
Parked at trail head near entrance to Beacon Rock and headed out for a great day hike. Water falls we're really flowing. Past the falls and continued on the more difficult route to the summit of Mt. Hamilton. Amazing views of the gorge at many locations along the way. There were a few muddy spots on the way, but overall the trail was in excellent condition. Snow is all gone. Make sure you have a Discovery Pass the rangers are very aggressive about checking.
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Hamilton Mountain — Nov 03, 2013 — Adaset
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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We hiked this trail on a cloudy, rainy Sunday after spending the night in Portland. Despite the ...
We hiked this trail on a cloudy, rainy Sunday after spending the night in Portland.

Despite the weather, the parking lot was about half full. We heard reports of "hail-like" snow on the summit, but never saw anything but light rain and fog.

The trail was a little muddy at times, but in good condition overall. The rockier sections of switchbacks closer to the summit were wet and slippery but nothing unusual. The fog was thick up top, so the views were left to our imagination on this classic Northwest November afternoon, but I imagine they would be gloriously expansive on a clear day. The trail is mostly exposed and open after leaving the junction with the Hardy Ridge Connector trail.

I plan on returning for a sunny spring morning hike to enjoy the views, but the waterfalls were still a hike-worthy highlight. All in all, a nice moderately quick hike if you're already in the area. And, time permitting, still close enough for one more pass through the Portland food trucks on the return to Seattle.
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Hardy Ridge, Bridge Trail - (Hardy Ridge Connector), Hamilton Mountain — Oct 04, 2013 — Ryan Ojerio
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Overgrown | Mud/Rockslide
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With the Government Shutdown forcing our volunteers from planned projects on the National Forests, I...
With the Government Shutdown forcing our volunteers from planned projects on the National Forests, I went out to scout trails at Beacon Rock.

Thanks to the park ranger for dropping me off so I could do a grand loop up and over Hardy Ridge and Hamilton Mt. connecting them via the Bridge Trail and Don's Cut-Off.

Along the way I got to see WTA's volunteers work - On the west side of Hardy Ridge I hiked up the reroute that our Youth Vol. Vacation built in 2012 - a beautiful single-track that replaces the steep logging road. (there's more reroute planned)

The ridge is pretty brushy and a couple switchbacks are starting to fail. At the crest there is a 4-way junction where the designated trail goes straight and user-created paths go up and down the ridge as folks explore "off-trail". I sat for a spell on the crest and the clouds parted once, just enough to get a sample of the beautiful view.

Continuing along on the Bridge Trail and Don's Cut-off I found them to be in good shape. Such beautiful trails! the volunteer built rock fords are a work of art!

Coming down Hamilton Mt. I noticed that many, many of the switchbacks are failing as they are eroded and people are cutting them. Its in really bad shape and will be very difficult to remedy given the rocky terrain and distance from the trailhead.

Further down I crossed a small landslide and a section where the tread is so outsloped its starting to fail. That's the spot we'll have our volunteers work this weekend.
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Hamilton Mountain — Aug 22, 2013 — NWphotographer
Day hike
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A very pleasant trail with some outstanding views of the Gorge along the way. One has to marvel at t...
A very pleasant trail with some outstanding views of the Gorge along the way. One has to marvel at the work it took to create this trail.

Romano gives it 5 stars. I wouldn't go that far, but it's still worthwhile.
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Mt Hamilton.jpg
The views are spectacular from atop Hamilton Mountain in Beacon Rock State Park. Photo by Eli Boschetto.
Location
South Cascades -- Columbia Gorge
Beacon Rock State Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2000 ft
Highest Point 2438 ft
Features
Waterfalls
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Wildlife
User info
Discover Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
South Cascades
Hiking Guide to Washington Geology (Carson / Babcock - Keokee) p. 166-168
Green Trails No. 429 Bonneville Dam

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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