A Labor Day Weekend Outing in the Columbia River Gorge


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Hamilton Saddle

On a sunny Saturday morning, I parked at the Hardy Ridge Equestrian Trailhead in Beacon Rock State Park. I was looking forward to a nine-mile loop hike, with roughly 2,000′ of elevation gain, 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.

Columbia River Gorge from Saddle below Hamilton Mtn (wildfire smoke from distant fires causing the dense haze)

Turing left, I began the pleasant one-mile hike up the east side of the creek, finally ascending the canyon wall. Soon, climbing 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. To my chagrin, wildfire smoke covered the Columbia River up and down the Columbia River Gorge. The smoky haze added an ethereal beauty to the views, but I missed seeing some of the best vistas in the Gorge. Oh well, there’s always a next time.

On the three-mile return hike, I enjoyed the sunshine, elderberries and late summer wildflowers.

Blue Elderberries

Chicory

Nesmith Point from saddle below Hamilton Mtn (lots of wildfire smoke in the floor of the Columbia River Gorge, 2,000′ below)

Everlasting Pea and Clover

Trail along Upper Hardy Creek is becoming grown over

Devil’s Club

A sign of a well-maintained park, a functioning outhouse over two miles from the closest trailhead ( near a maintenance road though)

 

 

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: ,

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