Day Hiking: South Cascades
by Dan A. Nelson (The Mountaineers Books)
© 2007 Dan A. Nelson /The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
My opinion on Beacon Rock seems to be in the minority--I understand that the steep, switchback-crazed mile ascent has a great historical background story, but I'm just not a fan of the design. At some point in the 40-something straight switchbacks, the whole thing just feels sillly. There are definitely nice views on the way up, and it is a very strenuous and quick ascent so great for fitness hikers. But the peak viewing area is tightly confined and likely to be very crowded during busy tourist hiking times, and to be honest the peak views are not that great anyway--the real view is across the highway up Hamilton Mountain. It's worth doing for a good workout, and won't take more than an hour total, and can be done even during hot evenings because a large portion will always be shaded and usually windy. Don't get your hopes too high though.
This is certainly one of the "must do" hikes in the Gorge. As I rounded the west side of the rock to look up at the 47 guard-railed switchbacks I began to laugh at the audaciousness of the entire enterprise. I imagine that such a trail would not be constructed today due to its impact on the terrain but the short and relatively steep hike is truly a fun experience. The hike offers dizzying views up and down river from both sides of the rock and summit. Be advised that if you're somewhat fearful of heights, the trail's perches might lead to a little anxiousness as you peer down the edge of the monolith. I understand that on the weekends, the "trail" (more like a paved walkway) can be very busy. When visited during the week, you're likely to the whole place to yourself as I experienced when hiking mid-week. The day was misty, a little overcast and some sections were a bit slippery, so wear good shoes. The views, even on an overcast day, are worth the hour or so you spend here. Be sure to bring a camera because you'll regret not capturing some of those views. Highly Recommended.
this trail is alot of fun. it's very easy and the views are amazing. there are about 52 switchbacks. we hiked on a day that had 40mph winds in the gorge (I know... how strange, right?) one side of the rock was calm as could be, the other side the wind was howling (of course that was the shady side, so the temperature changes were pretty extreme. If you're hiking on a nice day in the spring fall or winter... bring a coat.
Sign in/up to upload photos.
Keep Me Informed
Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.
We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.