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Hamilton Mountain Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
  4.4 ( 30 ) Favorite

Trail

7.1 mile 11.5 kilometer loop
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,169' 661 m
Descent: -2,167' -661 m
High: 2,395' 730 m
Low: 406' 124 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)

Dogs

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Map Key

Trail shared by Eric Ashley

A challenging loop with waterfalls, cliffs, forests, and views aplenty.

Eric Ashley

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

A Discover Pass is required at the trailhead.

Overview

The Hamilton Mountain Loop is a challenging hike 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 hike, it's no surprise this is a popular, sometimes crowded outing.

Need to Know

This hike involves plenty of steeps and lots of exposure. Keep a close eye on children and pets.

Description

The Hamilton Mountain Trail begins by immediately thrusting hikers into a beautiful forest of Douglas fir, from which they must climb steadily to a power-line clearing. This broad clearing provides the first views into the Columbia River Gorge and the nearby Bonneville Dam before the trail dives 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 guard-railed viewpoint overlooking Pool of the Winds and Rodney Falls. Back on the main trail, the Hardy Creek Bridge curves near the base of Rodney 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 section fills with ferns, Oregon grape, and thimbleberries. And in the fall, the yellow leaves of maple trees contrast nicely with the bold green of fir. Keep right at the junction to remain on the "more difficult" Hamilton Mountain Trail.

Soon, the trail passes beneath towering columns of basalt as it climbs to the top along tightly packed switchbacks. The steep climb is rewarded by sweeping views from the edge of a cliff face. This area is referred to as "Little Hamilton Mountain" by locals.

From here, the trail heads to the left before returning to the crest of the ridge, where it alternates between narrow ridgelines and tight switchbacks as it climbs to the summit of Hamilton Mountain. At the top, a short spur trail veers right to the actual summit.

To the left, the trail descends the ridgeline on its way 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.

After enjoying yourself at "The Saddle," follow the Equestrian Trail down an old road for roughly a mile until it intersects with the Hardy Creek Trail near a creek crossing. As the name implies, you may come across some equestrians 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 conifer. A steady descent at the end leads to an intersection with the Hamilton Mountain Trail. From there, turn right and retrace your steps past 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.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna, History & Background

Contacts

Land Manager: Washington State Parks

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Check-Ins

Oct 19, 2019
Ramtin Rahmani
Very muddy now. Steps after waterfalls are slippery- use caution. Great views! Descent after the summit the nice and gentle. 7.5mi — 3h 54m
Sep 23, 2019
Daniel Cam
Aug 2, 2019
Steve Heller
7.7mi — 2h 30m
Jul 20, 2019
Tyler Brugnoli
Jun 6, 2019
Jenny King
7.6mi — 4h 00m
May 30, 2019
Karmann Bowen
3mi
May 26, 2019
Roger Chiu
7.9mi — 3h 35m
May 18, 2019
Molly McGuire
Loved this hike! Some challenging climbing in the first stretch. 7.1mi — 3h 30m

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 30 votes

#274

Overall
  4.4 from 30 votes
5 Star
47%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Featured Hike Rankings

#26

in Washington

#274

Overall
140 Views Last Month
4,634 Since Oct 18, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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66%
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Photos

Mt Hood as seem from the open saddle north of Hamilton Mountain
May 6, 2019 near Stevenson, WA
The waterfall as seen from the bridge on Hamilton Mountain Trail
May 6, 2019 near Stevenson, WA
Pool of the Winds from the end of the spur trail.
May 6, 2019 near Stevenson, WA
View of the Columbia River Gorge from Hamilton Mountain.
Sep 12, 2016 near Cascade…, OR

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