columbia river gorge

Hiking Report: Angel’s Rest, Portland, OR

About a month after moving, I was in desperate need of hitting the reset button. I had been putting an intensive amount of effort into the job search and hadn’t yet realized how important it was to maintain a sense of play and adventure during the process.

In other words, I was driving myself crazy.

So, I did what I always do when I’m feeling that way. I set out to tackle a physical hill, in hopes that it would help me tackle my mental ones.

portland, oregon, pacfic northwest, hike, hiking

When you take on Angel’s Rest trail, you’re committing to 2.3 miles of constant ascension. Some of it is a gentle ascent, some of it is a steep ascent, but it’s always going up. There are no signs telling you how much further to the top, no way to measure how much longer unless you’ve cheated with an app on your phone.

Every thought, every worry falls away. A singular focus takes over, a steady grind of putting one foot in front of the other, and faith that, eventually, you’ll make it to the top.

And when you do make it, the uphill battle fades away.

hike, trail, pacific northwest hiking, columbia river gorge, portland, oregon

I throw the word awesome around quite a bit, using it to show enthusiasm, agreement, a positive attitude. When it’s used so casually, it can be easy to forget what awesome truly means – to be filled with a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

I settled down on a sun-warmed rock, soaking in the view. A view that started forming 40-20 million years ago.  A view shaped by volcanic eruptions, mudflows, and floods. A view to inspire a new perspective.

columbia river gorge, hike, hiking, pacific northwest, portland, oregon

Location: Angel’s Rest Trailhead, about 30 minutes outside of Portland along I-84E and US-30E

Distance: 4.6 out and back to the summit

Elevation: ~1400 ft gain, ~1580 feet at the summit

Time: 2.5-4 hours, depending on how long you hang out at the top

Difficulty: Moderate

Parking: Free. Small parking lot at the trailhead, some roadside parking as well.

Tips:

  • A great option if you’re on a weekend visit to the Portland area, and a nice way to break up all the eating and beer sampling.
  • Recommend getting an early start, this is a pretty popular trail. Family-friendly.
  • No restrooms at the trail head, although there are some a bit further up the road, as well as additional parking.
  • You’ll hit a shale crossing near the top. The views here are awesome too, but you haven’t hit the summit yet, keep going.
  • If you’re feeling up to it, this would be a great hike to bring a small picnic/cheese plate snack on.
  • Nearby trails include Bridal Veil Falls and Latourell Falls.

Hiking Report: Hamilton Mountain Loop Trail, Beacon Rock State Park

I settled on the Hamilton Mountain Loop hike for my next adventure after seeing the below picture on Instagram, posted by @oh__seriously.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we occasionally had the foresight to know if a given path was the hard version, or the harder version? If we could somehow see into the future and know what we were getting into?

I never did see that sign on my hike. I started out from the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, and when I reached the junction to choose the hard or harder version, they weren’t labeled that way. So I continued to follow the Hamilton Mountain Summit Trail, eager to see Rodney Falls. And yes, it’s the harder way, and worth every step.

Rodney Falls, Beacon Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Washington

The trail on Hamilton Mountain is littered with leaves of orange and yellow at the moment. Everything still feels so new to me but I’ve been in Vancouver, WA for 3 months, long enough to see the seasons start to change, and it’s a beautiful thing. Eventually I climbed high enough to be treated with a view of Beacon Rock. Even in the midst of transition, there are foundational bedrocks, standing true and stalwart.

 

Beacon Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Washington

A bit under 2.5 miles and I reached the summit. The day was clear enough to see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Table Mountain, and Bonneville Dam off in the distance. I swear hiking is like giving birth – the exhilaration of the summit vista always leaves me forgetting the difficulty of the hike up. (Side note – this is an exaggeration. I’m sure giving birth is much harder.)

I met the nicest couple at the top; they had me posing for pictures before I could even say hi. They were also divine intervention, convincing me to take the easier way down and complete the loop despite the extra mileage. If I had gone down the way I came up, I would have missed The Saddle, and the below amazingness.

 

Location: Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, Beacon Rock State Park along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge

Distance: 7.87 for the loop, 6.4 if you go out and back along the Hamilton Mt. Summit Trail

Elevation: 2038’ gain, summit at 2438’

Time: 4.5 hours, with breaks on the way up for pictures

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult, depending on level of fitness

Fees: $10 day Discover Pass, $30 annual Discover Pass

Tips:

  • Great day hike option when visiting Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA
  • Take lots of pictures on the way up Hamilton Mt Summit Trail, as the summit is overgrown with shrubbery
  • Do the full loop for the best experience – Hamilton Mt Summit Trail on the way up, Hardy Trail back down
  • Skip the Hardy Falls Viewing Area detour, the views are much better at the Rodney Falls Pool of Winds detour just a bit further down the trail
  • Near the summit, portions of the trail are very steep and narrow. I did fine without hiking poles, but they would have been nice to have.