A challenging loop brimming with sights at every step. The climb begins through rich forests, ascends to waterfalls, and then reaches expansive viewpoints higher up. With so much packed into a single trail, it's no surprise this is a popular, sometimes crowded outing.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers
This hike involves plenty of steeps and lots of exposure. Keep a close eye on children and pets.
The start of the Hamilton Mountain Trail
immediately surrounds visitors in a beautiful forest of Douglas Fir as they climb steadily to a power-line clearing. This wide swath provides the first views into the gorge and a peek at nearby Bonneville Dam before heading back into the trees.
At roughly a mile from the trailhead, Hardy Creek feeds a trio of closely spaced waterfalls. Up first, a brief connector trail brings hikers to a somewhat limited view of Hardy Falls. Ahead, another connector climbs to a railed viewpoint to see Pool of the Winds and Rodney Falls. Back on the main trail, the Hardy Creek Bridge curves near the base of the falls for a close view that's complete with cooling spray.
After the bridge, a series of switchbacks brings the trail to an intersection with the Hardy Creek Trail
. In the warmer months, this sections fills with ferns, Oregon grape, and thimbleberries. And in the fall, the yellow leaves of maple contrast nicely with the bold green of fir trees. Keep right to remain on the "more difficult" Hamilton Mountain Trail
Soon the trail passes beneath towering columns of rock. In just a moment you'll be climbing to the top along tightly packed switchbacks. The steep climb is rewarded by sweeping views from the edge of the cliff face. This area is referred to as "Little Hamilton Mountain" by locals.
The trail heads to the left before returning to the crest of the ridge. From here the trail alternates between narrow ridge lines and tight switchbacks as it climbs to the summit of Hamilton Mountain. At the top, a short spur trail leads right to the actual summit.
To the left, the trail travels down the ridgeline as it heads to "The Saddle." This viewpoint provides even better views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Table Mountain, Bonneville Dam, and the Columbia River. It's the end of the Hamilton Mountain Trail
and a great spot to enjoy lunch if the wind is cooperating.
Follow the Equestrian Trail
down an old road for roughly a mile till it intersects with the Hardy Creek Trail
near a creek crossing. As the name implies you may come across some equestrian riders and even bikers.
The Hardy Creek Trail
travels along a pleasant valley above Hardy Creek. The majority of the trail is spent hiking along rolling terrain beneath a cool forest of alder and conifers. A steady descent at the end intersects with the Hamilton Mountain Trail
. From there, turn right and retrace your way pas the waterfalls and back down to the trailhead.
This content was contributed by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge. To find more hikes they recommend and to learn about their efforts to support the Columbia Gorge click here