Hiking the Hamilton Mountain Trail, Washington

45.63279° N 122.01973° W

It’s long been on our bucket list, and today we’re finally getting a chance to hike the Hamilton Mountain Trail. The 6.4-mile out-and-back trail promises unbeatable views of the Columbia River Gorge and the surrounding mountains. It also bills itself as well-maintained, relatively easy, and a great option for hikers of all levels of experience. 

We find the trail head in Beacon Rock State Park just off of State Route 14, east of the Bridge of the Gods. Thankfully we’re able to leave our car in the parking lot. We got lucky, the lot can fill up quickly, especially on weekends. If so, you can park in the rest area just up the road and walk back to the trailhead. 

The trail begins with a moderate climb that continues to the summit of Hamilton Mountain. From here we take a moment to gaze over the Columbia River Gorge, the Bridge of the Gods, and the Cascade Mountains. 

Continuing on, we eventually come to Pool of the Winds, which as its names implies, has a constant wind rushing through it. From high above, a waterfall cascades down towards us, splitting into a series of smaller falls along the way. It’s a spectacular sight and turns out to be a great place to play hopscotch from rock to rock across the river.  

Back on the trail, we continued to climb along a series of switchbacks that reveal both where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Back and forth we go until the trail opens out and we find a place where we can work our way to some overhanging rocks for a survey of the area. The wind here is brutal and makes the going tough. Once we find a secure spot, we take a seat to enjoy a snack and the view of snow-capped mountains with waterfalls and the Columbia River in the distance.

Refreshed and ready, we make quick work of the trip back. We only pause briefly to give a tiny frog the right of way, and to admire the long draping moss hanging from the trees. Nothing says Pacific Northwest quite like that. And nothing makes you love where you live quite like a day among the nature along the Hamilton Mountain Trail. 

Before hiking the Hamilton Mountain Trail, or any other, remember:

  • Bring enough water and snacks.
  • Know the facilities, such as toilets, that are available to you and plan accordingly.
  • Try to avoid encounters with wildlife.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Be sure to bring a bag to take trash home with you.
  • Aside from your boot prints, leave no trace of your presence.