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On a cool and cloudy morning I parked at the Hardy Ridge Equestrian Trailhead in Beacon Rock State Park. My goal was to do an 8 1/2 loop hike to the open saddle underneath Hamilton Mountain.
I began an ascent mostly on old logging roads on the west side of Hardy Ridge, dropping to a bridge over Hardy Creek in about two miles.
Turing left, I began the pleasant one-mile hike up the east side of the creek, finally ascending the canyon wall. Following a short, steep side trail, I reached the 2,390-foot top of the ridge, only 48 feet lower than the summit of Hamilton Mountain.
From there it was an easy 1 3/4-mile hike to the 2,100-foot saddle below Hamilton Mountain. Clouds covered the Columbia River up and down the Columbia River Gorge, adding an ethereal beauty to the views. A cold wind had really picked up, buffeting me around on top of the saddle.
On the three-mile return hike, I enjoyed getting out of the wind and observing all the luscious rainforest along the trail.