Enjoy late summer light on Hamilton Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge

Hamilton Mountain is one of the most scenic spots in the Columbia River Gorge, itself one of the most scenic destinations in the Pacific Northwest. The climb to the top is always nice, but it’s especially beautiful on summer’s late afternoons and evenings, when crowds are sparse and the light in the gorge can be downright glorious.

A 3-mile trail takes hikers from the busy trailhead in Beacon Rock State Park to the top of the mountain, where views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams rise above the gorge. Along the way are several scenic stops that serve as brief detours, or even destinations in their own right for those who don’t have the time or desire to hike all the way to the top.

There’s Hardy Falls, seen from a viewpoint just off the trail; Pool of the Winds, where a small waterfall pours into a pool nestled into a rocky alcove; Rodney Falls, which stair steps its way down a steep stream bed; and Little Hamilton Mountain, a rocky outcropping about 2 miles up the trail with views that outshine those on the main summit.

Savvy hikers willing to wait out the morning and afternoon rush can find plenty of open parking, and much more peace and quiet, by hiking up Hamilton Mountain in the late afternoon.

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