As one of the most iconic rock formations in the Columbia River Gorge, Beacon Rock can be seen and recognized from miles away. With its proximity to the Portland metro area, a diverse offering of climbing routes, and breathtaking views up and down the Gorge, it is not uncommon to see scores of climbers on the pinnacle, especially during the popular summer season. The moderate routes, including the very popular Southeast Corner (5.7), are often backed up all day long on the weekend. However, the area offers many routes that are considered more challenging and technical. With more than 50 routes graded 5.10 or higher and a superior quality rock than other features in the Gorge, Beacon Rock is truly a premier crag for advanced traditional climbers.
The nearly 850-foot basalt monolith is the remnant of a young volcano that erupted many millennia ago. Beacon Rock was used as a marker for the end of the Columbia River’s tidal influence of the Pacific Ocean by both the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as Native Americans for centuries before them. First climbed in 1901, it was soon thereafter purchased by Henry J. Biddle, who constructed the iconic trail comprised of bridges, handrails and a great number of switchbacks. After topping out on the multi-pitch routes, climbers join with hikers to descend the trail that has been preserved to this day.
While there are routes on nearly all faces, check with local authorities for current closures. The south face is often closed in spring and early summer for peregrine falcon nesting. Other areas are currently closed for species preservation and danger from an overhanging tree.