Hiking Beacon Rock State Park

February 21, 2019/Jonathan Rundle/1 Comment

It’s a beautiful, dry winter morning here along the Columbia River. While we’re in this neck of the woods visiting Portland, it’s a perfect day to go hiking Beacon Rock on the Washington side of the river.

It starts with a nice drive through the small towns on the north shore of the Columbia. Our first view of Beacon Rock (way off in the distance) comes from the Cape Horn lookout along the Evergreen Highway.

That little nub doesn’t seem all that impressive in the grand scheme of the mighty Columbia River Gorge!

Hiking Beacon Rock

As you drive be sure to look to your right (safely, of course). All along the Oregon side are waterfalls which are well worth visiting. Today we’re just admiring from afar.

That little nub of the Columbia River Gorge looks a little more daunting up close. Beacon Rock is 848 feet tall, a volcanic monolith of basalt. It was named by Lewis and Clark in 1805 during their famous expedition west.

Hiking Beacon Rock

There are a few plaques set into the rock, one of which is dedicated to Henry J. Biddle who purchased the rock in 1915 for $1. During the next three years, he constructed a trail with 51 switchbacks, handrails and bridges.

Hiking Beacon Rock

The army wanted to blow up the rock and use it to create a Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia, but Biddle (with some assistance from the state of Oregon) got Washington to protect it as a state park.

Let’s hike!

Whitney and Graham lead the way from the north side around to the south side, where we’ll start working our way up the rock.

Hiking Beacon Rock

Further up the trail, we pass the gate that is locked from dusk to dawn.

Hiking Beacon RockHiking Beacon Rock

On this chilly day, it’s nice to make our way to the sunny side. You can see the impressive switchbacks and bridges that make up the trail. This baby goes vertical quickly.

Hiking Beacon RockHiking Beacon RockHiking Beacon Rock

The trail is occasionally closed due to big falling boulders smashing into and through the walkways. But we didn’t tell Graham about that so he doesn’t have a care in the world.

Hiking Beacon Rock

Further along, these great metal railings add a little history and style to the trail.

Hiking Beacon RockHiking Beacon RockHiking Beacon Rock

 

Hiking Beacon Rock

Beacon Rock Summit

The top of the trail is this final stairway. Once Graham climbs these steps, he’s made it to the top of the rock.

Hiking Beacon Rock

A “job well-done” selfie is in order.

Hiking Beacon Rock

 

Hiking Beacon Rock

TIme to make our way back down the rock on the same trail we just walked up.

Hiking Beacon Rock

Graham gets a few last looks in before we hit Beacon Rock bottom.

Hiking Beacon Rock

Who can blame him? The views from this old volcanic chunk of rock are amazing.

Hiking Beacon Rock

Hiking Beacon Rock

As I mentioned earlier, the trail is closed from dusk to 8 am. You will need a Washington State Discovery Pass or pay at a pay station for day-use. Parking can be hard to find on nice days and weekends, expect to walk along a busy roadway to get to and from your car.

Beacon Rock is only a part of a much larger 4,464-acre state park. The park includes 9,500 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River and more than 26 miles of roads and trails open to hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. Visit the park’s website here.

Comments (1)

  • Daniel Rundle . February 23, 2019 . Reply

    Beautiful scenic views! Looks like quite a climb!

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Hiking Beacon Rock State Park

beacon rock