Straight Up - 52 Switch Backs to the top.
Straight Up - 52 Switch Backs to the top.

52 Switch Backs Straight Up Beacon Rock

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Beacon Rock is the last standing remnants of the core of an ancient volcano. It stands an 848-foot monolith in the Columbia Basin on the Washington side.  Ice-age floods cut and gashed their way through the Columbia River Gorge eroding all of the volcano except the massive Beacon Rock.

There is a nicely cut trail with side railings up the face of beacon rocking making it accessible to all but the Acrophobic.  The first lady we talked to on our way up the path told us she turned back after 10 switch backs.  Many people find the bridges to be impassable and turn back upon encountering them. However, if you are strong of heart and mind you will find the hike not physically challenging as it’s length is only about .75 mile.

Beacon Rock
Beacon Rock

If the trail is too easy for you, Beacon Rock has some nice rock climbing routes. The south face is often closed to allow for nesting raptors (the falcons not the dinosaurs).  Call the park at (509) 427-8265 for more information. Beacon Rock is state park and offers camping, more hiking, bike, and horse trails. The state park is also close to the Bonneville Dam so there is access to fishing for sturgeon, salmon, steelhead, bass, and walleye.

After you complete the harrowing straight up hike try the 1.1 miles to Hardy Falls & Rodney Falls, which are worth the short hike. If that is not enough to even get you warmed up you can continue another 2.1 miles to the summit of Hamilton Mountain, 2438′ above sea level. You pro’s can, turn left at the top of Hamilton and complete a 7.6 mile loop.

The best thing about this rock (other than the geological anomaly) is the story of it’s ownership. Henry Biddle purchased the rock in 1915 for $1 and during the next three years built the trail to the top. Henry then gifted the rock back to Washington which made it into a state park. Henry was a man making fire and we tip our hats to him.

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