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Hamilton Mountain Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

3.5 mile 5.7 kilometer point to point
67% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,039' 621 m
Descent: -365' -111 m
High: 2,394' 730 m
Low: 411' 125 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 13% (7°)
Max Grade: 40% (22°)

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Trail shared by Eric Ashley

A steep but rewarding trail complete with cliffs, waterfalls, ridgelines, and views.

Eric Ashley

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

A Discover Pass is required at the trailhead.

Runner Notes

Continual steeps, challenging footing, and lots of exposure make this a run only for the bold.

Description

The Hamilton Mountain Trail begins by immediately thrusting runners into a beautiful forest of Douglas fir, from which they must climb steadily to a power-line clearing. This broad clearing provides the first views into the Columbia River Gorge and the nearby Bonneville Dam before the trail dives back into the trees.

At roughly a mile from the trailhead, Hardy Creek feeds a trio of closely spaced waterfalls. Up first, a brief connector trail brings runners to a somewhat-limited view of Hardy Falls. Ahead, another connector climbs to a guard-railed viewpoint overlooking Pool of the Winds and Rodney Falls. Back on the main trail, the Hardy Creek Bridge curves near the base of Rodney Falls for a close view that's complete with cooling spray.

After the bridge, a series of switchbacks brings the trail to an intersection with the Hardy Creek Trail. In the warmer months, this section fills with ferns, Oregon grape, and thimbleberries. And in the fall, the yellow leaves of maple trees contrast nicely with the bold green of fir. Keep right at the junction to remain on the "more difficult" Hamilton Mountain Trail.

Soon, the trail passes beneath towering columns of basalt as it climbs to the top along tightly packed switchbacks. The steep climb is rewarded by sweeping views from the edge of a cliff face. This area is referred to as "Little Hamilton Mountain" by locals.

From here, the trail heads to the left before returning to the crest of the ridge, where it alternates between narrow ridgelines and tight switchbacks as it climbs to the summit of Hamilton Mountain. At the top, a short spur trail veers right to the actual summit.

To the left, the trail descends the ridgeline on its way to "The Saddle." This viewpoint provides even better views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Table Mountain, Bonneville Dam, and the Columbia River. It's the end of the Hamilton Mountain Trail and a great spot to enjoy lunch if the wind is cooperating.

This content was contributed by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge. To find more runs they recommend and to learn about their efforts to support the Columbia Gorge, click here.

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Contacts

Land Manager: Washington State Parks

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Jul 4, 2019
Jessica K

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 4 votes

#8009

Overall
  4.0 from 4 votes
5 Star
25%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
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1 Star
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Trail Rankings

#410

in Washington

#8,009

Overall
4 Views Last Month
301 Since Oct 18, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

The waterfall as seen from the bridge on Hamilton Mountain Trail
May 6, 2019 near Stevenson, WA
Pool of the Winds from the end of the spur trail.
May 6, 2019 near Stevenson, WA
View of the Columbia River Gorge from Hamilton Mountain.
Sep 12, 2016 near Cascade…, OR
Mt Hood as seem from the open saddle north of Hamilton Mountain
May 6, 2019 near Stevenson, WA

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