Beacon Rock State Park - Hardy and Rodney Falls, Beacon Rock State Park - Hamilton Mountain, Beacon Rock State Park - Bridge Trail & Beacon Rock State Park - Hardy Creek — Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2010
WTA has been building and maintaining trails at Beacon Rock State Park for years. This time, I got to hike the entire route without tools in my hands! After dropping cars at the Hamilton Mountain trailhead, we began this through-hike at the equestrian trailhead. It is reached by turning onto Kueffler Road by the Beacon Rock State Park ranger station and driving 1.1 miles, then turning right onto a gravel road for .3 mile to a large parking area. We walked 1.8 miles up the closed road to the second intersection and turned left, following the signs for Hardy Ridge Loop. We walked another 1.3 miles to the unsigned start of the Hardy Ridge Connector Trail, which still is under construction. Once on the Hardy Ridge Connector, we encountered various stages of trail construction as we descended to the bridge over Hardy Creek at about one mile. We crossed over and gained the fire road on the east side of the creek. Following the road downstream for a mile or so, we came to the junction with the Hardy Creek Trail. The picnic table at this junction beside rushing Hardy Creek was our lunch stop. We then hiked the Hardy Creek Trail for 1.1 miles to the junction with the Hamilton Mountain Trail. From there, it was 1.5 miles to the trailhead, passing Rodney Falls as we crossed Hardy Creek again on another foot bridge. The complete hike is about 7.7 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation gain. Mid-April to mid-May is the prime time for wildflowers at Beacon Rock State Park. Many species of flowers bloom on the sunny forest floor beneath red alder trees that are only beginning to leaf out. Up on the summits of Beacon Rock and Hardy Ridge, large mats of spreading phlox will bloom around Mother's Day.