Hike Distance: 8.4 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 100.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 2006 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 12587 feet
Beacon Rock State Park was on the mind of my wife and so we headed out there for a hike. We parked at the horse camp and decided to hike to the Hamilton Mt. Saddle, and perhaps take one of the roads to the back of the park and make a loop with the Upper Hardy Creek trail. The weather was mixed, with it being warm down low but very windy and colder at the top.
We headed up the road, from the horse camp, and ran into an old timer named Mike. He’s a very nice gentlemen, and talks slow, but with a soft and kind voice. We have seen him over the course of many years, and crossed paths a few times. He’s always been fun to talk with, and today was no different. We spent about 25 minutes exchanging stories, and it was a nice way to start the hike!
As we ascended up the trail there were areas of snow that were still hanging around, but they were easily avoidable. We soon came to the picnic area at Hardy Creek and stopped to take pictures. The creek was flowing fast and very turbulent, but expected due to all of the rain. We took some pictures and continued our ascent towards the Hamilton Mt. saddle.
As we continued the ascent we met a couple of women that were heading down the trail. We didn’t stop to talk but exchanged a few words in passing. Continuing the ascent we came upon solid snow across the trail! It wasn’t very deep and was easy to traverse. This snow patch started at about 1800 feet.
We started coming around to the saddle and were greeted by stiff winds and a spectacular view! The snow was sporadic on the saddle as this area gets plenty of sun, and rain is likely to melt away anything here. We spent about 10 minutes moving around the saddle and enjoying the view, and taking pictures.
Snow covered all the mountains on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, and it was breathtaking. Looking both east and west along the Columbia River Gorge was no less a visual delight, and we looking in awe of the beauty. However, my favorite view was looking along the stretch of mountains that extended north from Table Mountain!!! The snow coating these mountains, along with the clouds colliding with the peaks, was nothing less than an eye-gasm (haha)! How I love the saddle area of Hamilton Mt.! 🙂
We decided to try and take one of the roads north towards the back of the park, and complete a loop by joining with the Upper Hardy Creek Trail. Once we got under the canopy we soon came upon constant snow coverage on the ground. When I say constant snow I mean 3-6 inches in depth, and not easy to move quickly. We weren’t moving very quickly and realized that it would be dark before we completed this loop. I really didn’t want to turn around but common sense told me to head back.
So, we headed back the way we came and moved quickly towards our car. We ended up completing a small loop trail, that joined back to the main trail, to get some extra mileage. If you want to see some nice snow, on the trail here, you’ll probably need to get here soon, before the higher temperatures melt it. Also note that there was plenty of water flowing in all the streams, and a bunch of small falls in these areas.
Such a wonderful day, and I’m so glad my wife thought to go here! 🙂