Hamilton Mountain Trail - Hardy Creek Loop Hike

Date: July 14, 2007
Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2100 ft
Time: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Maps: Hamilton Loop Map
My Route: On loops like this, I like to take the steep way up and the longer way down. I find my knees feel better that way.

  1. From the trail head, go up up up on Hamilton Mountain trail.
  2. Take the little spur trails along the way to see Rodney Falls and Hardy Falls. They're both worth the view and you can cool down a bit in the mist. Don't bother with the unmarked spur trail, with a bench, a short way up from the trail head, it just goes to the campground.
  3. At the junction with Hardy Creek Trail, stay strait on Hamilton Mountain Trail (the sign says "more difficult")
  4. The summit is kind of abrupt, you pass through a clump of bushes and find a few hikers eating sandwiches and you say "Is this the top?" And they will say "Yes, you made it!".
  5. Sit down, enjoy the view of the gorge, try to identify dog mountain and table top, eat your lunch and say "Yes, you made it!" to the next person. The summit area can't hold more than 6-8 people and can get windy, so you don't stay too long.
  6. To make the loop, walk north from the summit.
  7. After about a mile you reach a 4 way stop with a sign relating to horses, take a left and descend down an old road.
  8. After about a 1/2 mile, turn left at the picnic table onto Hardy Creek Trail. The sign here is easy to miss so be watching for the table, not a sign. This is a nice spot to have another snack.
  9. This trail takes you through the woods alongside Hardy Creek.
  10. After 2 miles you'll arrive at the junction with Hamilton Mountain Trail, you've been here before. Go down hill (right) to the trail head.
Notes: Wow, 9.4 miles is a long way. Felt longer than I remembered!

Hamilton Mountain is one of my go-to trips. I've been here lots of times and the first trip of each year always surprises me with the distance and difficulty!


This trail is a mix of exposed and shady, definitely one to bring a hat and sunscreen and plenty of water. The trail has some steep, slippery, rocky areas that require careful steps. Be prepared for mud and water on the trail, even in dry weather.

Trail Head:

View PDX Day Hiker in a larger map
Hamilton Mountain is on the north side of Beacon Rock State park. The trail starts at the first parking area on the north side and also connects to the campground. Water and Bathrooms available. Parking is free.
There is construction at the trail head for summer 2009, parking may be limited (even more than usual)

What I said about these trails before:
Hamilton Mountain Hikes, Beacon Rock State Park Hikes, Gorge hikes
Other resources for this and other nearby hikes:
NW Hiker
Portland Hikers
Washington Trails Association
Local Hikes
Guidebooks:
60 Hikes within 60 Miles Hike #6
Hiking the Columbia River Gorge Hike #45
Day Hiking, South Cascades Hike #123
Portland Hikes: The Best Day-Hikes Within 100 Miles of Portland Hike #48
100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon (& Southwest Washington) Hike #31
Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide Trip #5


Overall: ★★★★

Have you been on this or a nearby trail?

1 comment:

  1. Recently I discovered that many sources list this route as 7.5 miles and many list the exact same route at 9.0 or 9.4. I'm at a loss to say for sure.

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