With waterfalls, lush forested paths and mountain vistas, the Hamilton Mountain Loop trail has it all for hikers heading out to the Gorge this fall. Follow the 7.5 mile out and back trail to an open plateau and enjoy views of the Bonneville dam and the rugged cliff lines of the Columbia River’s banks.
The trail climbs about 2000 feet in the first few miles, so take it slow and enjoy the scenery. The first junction will take you down and to the right to visit Hardy Falls, Pool of the Winds and Rodney Falls before beginning to trek upwards to Little Hamilton Mountain. While it might feel like you’ve already completed the first half of the climb, don’t be fooled at the short vista. You still have a ways to go to make it to the top!
Return to the main trail and follow it up several switchbacks until you reach a T intersection at the top of the ridge. From here you will be able to see Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood if it is clear as well as both west and east along the river. Once you have finished taking ample photos, follow the trail to the left across the plateau and down a section of the horse trail to complete the lower loop back to the waterfalls and eventually the trailhead.
Restrooms and picnic tables are available at the parking lot. Purchase a Washington Discovery Pass online or at the trailhead for $10 to hike the Hamilton Mountain Loop.
Getting there: From Portland, take I-84 East and exit at Cascade Locks. Cross the Columbia River to Washington State over the Bridge of the Gods (toll required). Take a left on Highway 14 and drive seven miles west. Turn right near mile marker 35 & Beacon Rock into the campground and follow it uphill a short ways. Take the first right to park at the trailhead.
What is you favorite Columbia Gorge hike on the Washington State side?