Located in the Beacon Rock State Park, Hamilton Mountain is a popular destination for local hikers. So while the tourists are all visiting Beacon Rock, take the turn up the mountain and head towards the Hamilton Mountain trailhead. Keep in mind, this is a state park so either pay at the trailhead or bring your Discover Pass and head on up.
As with most of the trails along the gorge, you will start off in the forest. But every once in awhile you can get a glimpse of your jagged destination.
First up on the list of sights is the impressive Hardy Falls.
It's a slight side trip off the main trail, but totally worth it.
Back on the trail and a little further up you will come to Rodney Falls.
There is a little trail up to this viewing point. Looking down you can see the well crafted bridge you will use to continue your hike.
A shot looking back at the bridge and Rodney Falls passing underneath.
About halfway up you will come to a decision point. Do you take the "Difficult" trail or the "More Difficult" trail. To be honest, your decision is already made. You will be taking the More Difficult trail. Unless you hate ridges, cliffs, and amazing views...but then again why would you even be here?
Shortly after the trail split you break out of the forest and make your way onto the ridgeline. Looking back, you can easily see Beacon Rock.
Another shot of Beacon Rock, but this time a bit more of the gorge.
Some of the wildflowers you will find along the ridgeline.
If you follow the ridgeline you will be greeted with some amazing views of Hamilton Mountain and it's stunning cliffs.
Sadly there weren't too many wildflowers along the ridgeline meadow.
Looking East from the ridgeline, you get a clear view of the dam.
Getting closer to the cliffs before having to go back onto the main trail.
Part of the trail towards the final summit. Looking back you can see the ridgeline with Beacon Rock hiding in the distance.
Atop the summit, you can now see Mount Hood begin to peak its way over the adjacent mountains.
Not happy with just sitting at the summit and having my lunch, I followed a side trail towards the south. After a bit of scramble climbing I came to the cliff face we were looking at earlier. I found a safe place and enjoyed the view along with a pair of hawks who were using the shear wind force to practically hover as they looked for a meal of their own.
Scrambling back up to the summit, I decided I would take on the extra two miles and see what the back loop of the trail had to offer.
One of the main features of the back trail is you get a commanding view of the mountains to not only the North, but also the East and West. One of the prominent mountains is Table Mountain.
Aptly named for it's flat, table like top.
Looking back at the summit, you can still see Mt Hood.
Finally back in the forest, the back trail is one third access road. Making one third of the back trail a bit boring to say the least. I was rather happy to get out of the sun and back in the forest. While taking this route does add on an extra two miles, if you are looking for continued beauty, I would recommend turning around once you reach the access road and head back the way you came.
Back at the car, the small lot was full and there was a ranger on hand to help direct traffic up the road. While not as busy as my trip to Dog Mountain, this one became a bit packed as well. I was once again happy to get to the trail early and find ample parking.
Looking to make a trip of Hamilton Mountain? Great! Here's a link to WTA's post on Hamilton Mountain. Make sure you read the trip reports and check the condition of the trails first. And when you're done with the mountain, go check out Beacon Rock on your way home.
As usual, here's a map of my hike. I outlined where the service road is so you can make up your own mind on whether or not you want to head down that route.