hike: Hamilton Mountain

It’s been over 5 years since I hiked to the summit of Hamilton Mountain. While the hike felt just as strenuous as it ever had, this was the first time I’ve hiked there in the fall. Vine maples filled the lower forest with shades of yellow, while a light amount of snow covered the top.

distance: 5.7 miles round trip
elevation gain: 2,100 ft
difficulty: strenuous
best season: fall, spring
drive time from Portland: 1 hour
parking pass:
Discover Pass
hike description: OregonHikers.org: Hamilton Mountain Loop Hike

The Hike

Beginning at a picnic area with a pavilion built in 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the trail begins in the forest before reaching an open area with power lines. There’s a good view here of Hamilton Mountain and the ridge below it. The trail heads back into the forest towards Hardy Creek and several waterfalls.

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I wasn’t expecting there to be so much fall color this late in the season. Vine maples added a touch of yellow to the forested sections of the hike.

Hamilton Mountain hike

We took the side trail (about 1.25 miles from the trailhead) to a viewing platform at Hardy Falls.

Hamilton Mountain hike

I don’t know this couple that was at the Pool of Winds, but love their pose and the way the sun rays are shining towards them.

Hamilton Mountain hike

At Rodney Falls, the trail work that Washington Trails Association completed on the steps was much nicer than the muddy mess that used to be there.

Hamilton Mountain hike

Rodney Falls

Hamilton Mountain hike

Continuing up, but still a long way from the summit, there are great views of the Columbia River Gorge.

Hamilton Mountain hike

Looking northwest towards Hardy Ridge, another great hike at Beacon Rock State Park.

Hamilton Mountain hike

I stopped to check out the structural form of these gnarled oaks.

Hamilton Mountain hike

The trail gets a lot rockier on a section of switchbacks.

Hamilton Mountain hike

Just below the summit of Hamilton, we encountered snow on the trail. Sections of it were a bit icy and slick.

Hamilton Mountain hike

The actual summit of Hamilton Mountain is a bit underwhelming based on the effort to reach it, but the views on the way up are stunning. I usually do a longer loop, continuing past the summit to a saddle with panoramic views and taking an old roadbed to Hardy Creek, but the snow was deeper on the backside and a bit slick without having microspikes, so we went back the same way.

Hamilton Mountain hike

Distant views were hazy all day, and it felt colder on the hike out due to wind when we were in exposed sections.

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