The promise of some rain in late September, what better place to be than the upper trailhead at the Beacon Rock State Park in the Columbia River Gorge.
After a gradual climb of a little over one mile, the Hamilton Mountain Trail came to Hardy Creek. I crossed a wooden bridge with an up-close view of 115-foot Rodney Falls. Then the trail began switchbacking up the steep ridge leading to the summit. The colorful leaves of vine maples added a splash of autumn to the surroundings.
Along the way there were views of the Columbia River, Beacon Rock, Bonneville Dam and the vistas on the Oregon side of the Gorge. As I climbed the last one-half mile to the summit of Hamilton Mountain at 2,500 feet the rain began to fall and the clouds moved in.
From the summit the trail slowly descended the ridge to the north, reaching an open saddle with almost no visibility due to the dense cloud cover.
The trail followed an abandoned road to the bottom of Hardy Creek Canyon before turning south, eventually returning to the original Trail. In a couple of miles, I crossed the wooden bridge below Rodney Falls again and returned to the Trailhead, wet but happy for the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.