Hamilton Mountain

SpringspringspringspringSPRING! It’s here.

The cherry blossoms, rhodies, and magnolias are out in full force in PDX… finally. We’re still having a pretty cool and damp spring, but we’ve been given some little pockets of nice weather, one of which was this past Saturday. The sun was shinin’ around 1pm in Portland, so we decided, let’s GO. To the Gorge!

Hamilton Mountain
Columbia River Gorge (WA side)
Distance: ~6 miles
Elevation gain: 2100 feet
Summit at: 2480 feet

(I haven’t had my GPS for the last couple hikes, so I don’t have terribly accurate data or a map. Sorry!!)

I had a feeling this hike might be interesting when we drove through sunshine… then rain… then hail… then more sunshine, just on the ride out. That weather pretty much kept up that way through the hike. We ended up getting somewhat of a late start (left the trailhead at 4pm), but the sun setting plus the weather made for a pretty dramatic landscape. You’ll see.

Also, I did do this same hike last year, at about the same time of year – amazing how different the landscape was, I’m guessing due to the exceptionally cold and wet winter/spring we’re having this time around. I will say, I was not really impressed with Hamilton last year. Much better this time around.

The trail sets off through second-growth Doug Firs, with a pretty easy climb for the first mile. At about the one-mile mark, we came to Rodney Falls. Just as I remembered. 🙂

Rodney Falls

More Rodney Falls


Don’t miss Pool of the Winds either, a short side trail up from the main trail. Stellar geological formation… the first tier of Rodney Falls rushes down into this sort of rock cave, forcing a constant gust of wind out the front (and onto your face). Hard to take a photo of, but amazing for cooling down.

The ascent was relatively uneventful (but plenty muddy). I remembered every step of the way that I haven’t been hiking much this year… damn my legs were burning. Got some really amazing views along the way though!

At about 1.5 miles in, looking west-ish

Totally thought we were almost there. But then saw this.

We hit the summit somewhere around 5:45 or 6:00ish, and were greeted with… a wall of clouds. Looking east was hopeless, but the view to the west was pretty cool.

Lots of tall brush at the summit (looking west)

Looking east (I swear). Pretty sure I spy some rainbows on the left side of this photo.

About five minutes later, boom, the clouds cleared (kinda). Got a partial view east!

Looking back toward Table Mountain

Didn’t hang out at the summit too long, since we were racing the clock (and the park gate closing at dusk). Typically this hike is done as a loop, and you would continue past the summit and kind of loop around the back of the mountain. I did the loop last year and honestly, not worth it in my opinion, aside from the added ~1.5 miles (if you’re just going for distance). It didn’t add much to the experience. Since we were pressed for time on this day, we just headed down the way we came. Had some amazing views on the way down, as the sun was setting behind the approaching clouds.

I mean… come on. Gorgeous.

That rain is beautiful. It’s also… uh… yep, that’s headed right toward us.

Last look back from where we came. Looking nice to the east now!

Made it back to the car at 7:00 on the dot, and it was still plenty light out. And still plenty of time to hit Walking Man. I kinda like this late-in-the-day short hike thing! Had the place to ourselves.

Good early season hike for sure. Let’s make this a more regular thing already.

Edit: I’m publishing this from my parents’ house on their computer, and noticing on their monitor that a lot of the photos look way overexposed. Wondering if it’s just their monitor settings, or do they look blown out to anyone else?

5 thoughts on “Hamilton Mountain

  1. Love the shots of the rain coming up the Gorge! Exposure looks fine to me, particularly considering how difficult most of those lighting situations are.

  2. Good to see that you’re out hiking pretty early in the spring! Should be getting a bit warmer/less muddy here on out!

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