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Hamilton Mountain

Hamilton Mountain, WA

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WaterfallsBig Vistas (Viewpoints)WildflowersHiking (difficult)
Region: 
Columbia River Gorge
Total distance: 
7.50 miles
Trailhead elev.: 
260 ft.
Net elev. gain: 
2,217 ft.
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Congestion: 
Moderate
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Dogs allowed: 
Yes
Road condition: 
Paved
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
Washington Discover Pass
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Halvor Tweto | 01.18.13
The trail junction to Hadley Trailhead and Campground.

Trip Report

Pros: 
Great views. Waterfalls. Close to Portland. Passable nearly year-round.
Cons: 
Washington Discovery Pass is required. Can be very windy.

The Hamilton Mountain Trail is a great hike on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. The trail starts at Beacon Rock State Park, which offers nearby seasonal camping, and the hike up Beacon Rock could be added if energy remains after hiking Hamilton.  Hamilton Mountain remains a great option in the winter as the trail is typically passable year-round. Access to the upper parking area is gated during these months, however, so parking is relegated to the pullouts around the Beacon Rock trailhead; you then hike the half-mile up the road on the north side of the highway to the upper parking area. The trailhead is clearly marked at the north side of the upper parking area.

Towering 2,400 feet above the Columbia River Gorge, Hamilton Mountain feels much higher then it actually is. Strong gorge winds and a southern exposure combine to make much of the second half of the ascent, including the peak, open and free of vegetation. That said, this hike really has it all: sections pass through tranquil woods, over mountain streams, and provide terrific views of two waterfalls.

The trail enters the woods and climbs gently before dropping briefly into the Hardy Creek Drainage, where a short side trail leads to a view of Hardy Falls below.  Soon another trail makes a short climb up to the Pool of the Winds that lies at the base of the 50-foot Rodney Falls. Once the trail crosses the creek the ascent starts in earnest; after several switchbacks, look for the first of several cliff-top viewpoints. This is a good point to turn around if a you are short on time. If you are continuing to the summit of Hamilton Mountain, stay on the trail as it follows along the ridge and climbs steeply towards the end. The summit offers sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood as it looms over the southern peaks, and the ordered company town of North Bonneville below.

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Nearby Lodging

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Comments + Trip Reports

Core Team
158
112
03.01.15(Trip Date)

Not a cloud in the sky or a flake of snow on the ground. The summit was busy (and the parking lot below full) for such a great clear day, but even then the trail didn't feel overly congested with people. We took the loop track back down by walking out the ridge and returning via the road and horse path for a bit. It's much easier on the knees and offers more great views not seen on the way up.

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Pro Member
13
02.14.15(Trip Date)

Apparently hiking is for lovers because on Valentine's day there were tons of people hiking Hamilton Mountain! The hike to Pool of the Winds/Rodney Falls is somewhat difficult, but short. However doing the additional 2 miles up to the top of Hamilton Mountain is a whole other story! After a long sustained climb and many switchback you will find your heart pounding and you will be wondering why you are so out of shape. Don't worry everyone feels like this! There are a couple of fake-out spots where you think you've reached the top, but keep going until you find that sign that says 2438. Yup, you've climbed over 2200 feet to reach that spot. So kick back with everyone else gulping down water, eating their snacks, and enjoying the great views.

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Pro Member
31
05.11.14(Trip Date)

Nice Hike. Made it a loop by taking trail to saddle, then down ATV road, then back on the creek trail. The trail was absolutely packed and parking was a problem - but then it was the first nice day in a while and it was Mother's Day.

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Contributor
39
2
01.12.14(Trip Date)

Love this one. Went just as the storm was calming down this past weekend, and there were a couple fallen trees on the path (nothing that's impossible to pass). Very muddy, but fun! Was the windiest I've experienced there at the top - wow! Waterfall was also gushing. Neat to see it after significant rainfall.

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