Early May I returned to the northern side of the Columbia River Gorge. The Hardy Ridge Trail, in the Beacon Rock State Park, began at an equestrian trailhead. After two miles of relatively easy hiking, mostly on old logging roads on the westside of the mountain, the Trail began sharply climbing to the spine of the Ridge.
Many early wildflowers were in bloom, including to my surprise some spotted coral root orchids. North of the 45th Parallel it is always rewarding to see orchids in bloom in the wild.
After reaching the ridge top I took a well-deserved break for a snack before beginning the trip back to the Trailhead. To vary the scenery, I took the longer, but easier, loop on the east side of the Ridge. After dropping about 700 feet in elevation, the route followed a series of old logging roads for several miles before rejoining the main Trail.
All in all the hike was 6.8 miles in length with 1,800 feet of elevation gain. It made for a great outing on a nice spring day.