Hey, hey, Washington. Once again, we remembered that we live just across the river from another state, and ventured into Washington for a hike at Beacon Rock in the Columbia River Gorge.
And guys, this trail is an engineering marvel. Look at this thing.
As soon as you get started on the Beacon Rock hike, you can see the 848-foot rock towering over you, and you’ll wonder how on earth a trail could exist on that thing. And really, the trail is only kind of built into the rock, with concrete slabs, wooden boardwalks, and a little bit of actual rock. Apparently, it took 2 1/2 years to build this trail, starting in 1915. Wild.
The trail climbs over 600 feet in less than a mile, but it the grade is surprisingly gentle. Since there are so many switchbacks (54!), you are only climbing a little bit on each one.
The entire trail is pretty exposed to the elements, which I imagine could get pretty warm on a sunny day, but it was quite pleasant on a cool day in May.
The views along your climb to the top are really lovely, but the summit didn’t offer anything too spectacular compared with the views along the way. Plus, the summit is relatively small and was quite crowded when we visited, so be sure to enjoy your leisurely stroll to the top of Beacon Rock and take in the sights along the way.
To get to Beacon Rock, take I-84 east of Portland to Exit 44 (Cascade Locks/Bridge of the Gods). Take the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River (you’ll have to pay a $1 toll), and turn left at the end of the bridge onto Washington 14. Parking for Beacon Rock State Park is about 7 miles down the road on the left. You need a Washington Discover Pass to visit Beacon Rock State Park ($10/day or $30/year), but we happened to visit on a free pass day (you can find a list of those here).