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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.
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.
Everlasting Pea and Clover