- Washington side of Columbia River Gorge (Beacon Rock State Park)
- 8.1 miles total, 2,100 feet of elevation gain
- Great views, some risk of falling
- Not crowded
July 16th, 2017
(Click images to enlarge and see clearly)
This hike is on the WA side of the Gorge and is a part of Beacon Rock State Park. Therefore, you’ll either need to pay $10 at the trailhead or get the $30 Discover Pass, which is an annual pass that covers all state parks in WA. We luckily got to the ranger station that morning at the same time as the rangers, and they were able to issue us a pass.
The road up to the trailhead is just to the left of the ranger station, and is called Hardy Ridge Equestrian Trailhead off of Kueffler Road.
The trail is a loop, but you can take the loop either way or you could go up and down the same way. The first part of the trail follows a wide, mixed gravel and grass road shaded by tall trees and shrubs. Occasionally, there is a view peeking out into the gorge from this part of the trail. On our way up, we simply followed the signs for Hardy Ridge Trail, disregarding our other options for the loop.
Eventually you’ll get to a four-way junction. The one going up (right or left depending on which way you ascended) takes you on a short, steep climb through an slightly overgrown trail up to the ridge. At the very start of this part is a rocky point (to the left of the trail) with a view of Mount Hood.
Climb the steep trail up and it’ll quickly open toward the top. Shortly after the trail opened up, we stopped at a rocky outcrop that had a view of Mount Adams and Mount Hood, as well as the Columbia River below us.
The trail continues quite a ways along the ridge, a route which surely has plentiful views and didn’t look too steep. We, however, were tired and content to sit at the start of the ridge to enjoy a snack.
We hiked back down to the four-way junction. At the junction, going right would’ve taken us back the way we came. Straight was an unknown trail, but it looked like it went out to another viewpoint. Left took us on the “loop” route, so that is the way we went down. It eventually linked back up with the beginning of the route we took up, and then back to the parking lot.
This trail was nearly EMPTY of people. The parking lot had about 5 cars, and we only came across a few folks here and there on the hike — no more than 10 total. This was particularly awesome considering it was mid-day on a beautiful Summer Saturday. Most trails in the Gorge are PACKED at that day and time in the Summer. So, if you’re looking for a good hike but don’t want crowds, Hardy Ridge is excellent.
Total hiking time: ~ 3 hours.