|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
From the trailhead at the lower picnic area in Beacon Rock State Park, the path immediately starts its upward climb, first through shaded fir forest, then open hillsides covered with brilliant yellow scotch broom. Pass a spur trail that leads to the campground, then reenter forest now with Pacific dogwood and vine maple. After one mile, a short spur drops to a viewpoint above Hardy Falls. Continue on to the next junction and take a short detour left to the Pool of the Winds, where Rodney Falls plunges into a deep pool within a narrow chasm, blasting misty spray outwards. Return to the junction and continue the trail, crossing a wooden bridge below Rodney Falls' cascades, then climb a series of wooden steps up the ridgeside.
At 1.6 miles, another junction awaits, where a sign indicates "difficult" to the left, or "more difficult" straight ahead. This is the beginning of the loop that summits Hamilton Mountain. Opt for the "more difficult" route straight ahead and start a steep, steady climb on shady switchbacks, with occasional views over the Columbia River and Beacon Rock, now far below. After a series of narrow, rocky switchbacks, come to a large rock outcropping with fantastic Gorge views. Climb through hillside meadows on the western flank of Hamilton Mountain for the final push to the summit with views south to Mt. Hood and east to Table Rock and Mt. Adams.
Continue by descending along Hamilton's north ridge to The Saddle, a rocky open flat with more great views, including Hardy ridge to the west. At a signed junction, turn left (west) and follow an old logging road for one mile as it curves down toward Hardy Creek, passing by Don's Cutoff. Come to a bridged crossing of Hardy Creek with a picnic table and pick up trail again, veering left (southeast) and plunging into alder forest, now on the Hardy Creek Trail. This moderate section contours around the hillside above Hardy Creek for 1.3 miles to meet up with the Hamilton Mountain junction passed earlier. Turn right (west) and return on familiar trail, past the falls, to your starting point.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo