Hamilton Mountain

2,480 Feet
9.4 miles Round Trip
Myself, Kristin, George, Katie, Baby Tanner, Brian, Nina, Kyle, Ester
Hamilton Mountain Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info

Our large party left Portland to journey out to the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead at a punctual 11am as George would say (really meaning 12:30pm). From Portland the quickest route is going Interstate 84 to Cascade Locks and crossing over the Bridge of the Gods (toll bridge $1 each way). The turn off is just Northwest of Beacon Rock.

The trailhead starts at about 400 feet elevation according to my handy Garmin 405 GPS watch. The trail climbs through the dense forests of the Columbia River Gorge with occasional clearings to allow you a short glimpse of the beautiful views off yonder. About a quarter of a mile into the hike you’re able to see the final destination between the trees – the almighty Hamilton Mountain just off to the Northeast. Unfortunately for the girls it dampened their spirits a tad bit – “We’re hiking way up there!” The boys had to quickly disengage this thought of fatigue and immediate soreness with the distraction of an awesome waterfall a few turns ahead.

Hardy Falls/Rodney Falls/Pool of Winds rejuvenated the spirits of all. For many, this is where their hike ends. I personally enjoy hiking Hamilton Mountain much more during the Fall/Winter months when there is much more water.

The trail crosses over a rustic bridge and climbs up a series of slick muddy steps. Not far after the falls is a trail junction- to the right is extremely difficult and to the left is much more gradual. We always choose to take the difficult route up and the more gradual sloping trail down just to be nice to our knees.

Just beyond this trail junction the “extremely difficultly” is evident in the continuous steep switchbacks you climb. Switchbacks are great in most situations making the trail much more gradual; however, it sucks when you can look straight up and see the amount left you have to hike up. In the words of my wife, this is “the trail that never seems to end.”

After climbing steep terrain for just over 3 miles we started to hike out above the dense forest and a large rocky cliff was viewable not far away. This is Little Hamilton Rock – a false summit! Many are fooled by the false summit. This area makes for a great rest stop for a snack and a chance to take in the panoramic view of the gorge at about 1,500 feet. After a short much needed rest we continued up the trail back into the forest. It is nice to be in the trees because it shades you somewhat from the beaming sun.

Atop of the true Hamilton Mountain at 2,480 you are blessed with awesome views in all directions and a nice breeze. We spent all of 2 minutes at the summit area and quickly hiked down the backside for shelter from the blustery winds. Along the backside we sat on a ridge that was covered with strong-holding vegetation, which protected us for the almighty winds of the Gorge. Here we spent a good 45 minutes eating lunch and soaking in some much need sun rays.

I love the diversity with hiking looping trails. Hiking off the ridge of Hamilton Mountain gives you an entirely different perspective with views of Mt Hood and Mt Adams in the distance. The trail comes to a juncture that meets up with a few mt biking/esquarian/hiking trails which can be accessed by service roads just North of Beacon Rock. We continued down the gradual sloping gravel trail to Hardy Creek where the dogs took full advantage of the water.

Just beyond the creek the trail meanders through the dense forest back down to the Hardy Falls area. When I see open trail ahead my johnny long legs can’t help but to stride out and run. Needless to say Kyle and I left the group behind and raced down to the bottom.

This is a solid hike that provides much diversity in scenery – forested trails, water falls and vista views. It is definitely no hike to soak at with a steep elevation gain of the course of 9.4 miles. I highly recommend during late fall – less crowded, beautiful red maple leafs and much more powerful waterfalls.

Hamilton Mountain Hiking Photos
NW Hiker Trail Info


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by G$ on May 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Sick Trip Brah!


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