The Lewis and Clark Corp of Discovery pulled up along the shores of the Columbia River in the fall of 1805 and were the first to describe this iconic basalt outcropping as "Beacon Rock". However, the name was later modified to Castle Rock and remained that way until 1915, when Henry Biddle, a wealthy engineer and amateur botanist originally from Pennsylvania, purchased the land encompassing the monolith for a reputed $1. Biddle convinced the US Board of Geographic Names to restore its 1805 moniker. When Biddle died 12 years later, his children donated the land to the State of Washington, and Beacon Rock became a public park in 1932.
Whether you are looking for a good day hike, hoping to take the horses out on the trail, need an overnight camping spot, want to picnic in an open field, need to dock your sailboat, or want to scale the south face of the rock that started it all, this 5,100-acre state park has you covered. Besides the popular switchback trail that allows the common visitor to make it to the top of the 680-foot Beacon Rock, the hike to the top of 2,445-foot Hamilton Mountain is perfect for taking in panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, catching a glance of Rodney Falls, and simply enjoying the mountain's spectacular display of wildflowers in early summer.