With sweeping panoramic views, and as one of the easiest and most accessible hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, it’s no surprise that the switchback trail up Beacon Rock is constantly in use. Since 1918, it has been easy for visitors to reach the summit of the 680-foot monolith of shear basalt thanks to Henry J. Biddle, who purchased the rock in 1915 and quickly constructed a series of switchback trails, overlapping bridges, and an almost continuous run of handrails.
Luckily, Biddle and his family’s vision of protecting and celebrating the rock's grandeur has withstood the test of modern time. In the 1930s the US Army Corp of Engineers drafted a plan to completely demolish the landmark for use in construction of a jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River, but it was ultimately unsuccessful. Soon after, the Biddle family turned the land over to the State of Washington, and in 1935 Beacon Rock State Park was created. It wasn’t until 1986, however, that the Columbia River Gorge was designated and protected by Congress as a National Scenic Area.