Beacon Rock Trail

Beacon Rock State Park, Washington

Distance0.8mi
Elevation Gain2,834ft
Trailhead Elevation247ft
Top829ft
Elevation Min/Max247/829ft
Elevation Start/End247/247ft

Beacon Rock Trail

Beacon Rock Trail is a hiking trail in Skamania County, Washington. It is within Beacon Rock State Park. It is 0.8 miles long and begins at 247 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,834 feet. Near the trailhead there are parkings, an information board, and drinking water. Along the trail there is a picnic site. The trail ends near Beacon Rock (elevation 2,782 feet). There are also a cliff and a viewpoint near the end of the trail.

Beacon Rock Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"A short, steep day hike to the top of Beacon Rock. The heavily traveled trail to the top of Beacon Rock is paved in some places, boardwalked in others, and surrounded by a safety guardrail most of the way up. The view is spectacular, and the location deeply historical."

"Named by Lewis and Clark in 1805, Beacon Rock is the 848-foot-high monolith that sits on the banks of the Washington side of the Columbia River. Once a volcano, the exterior of Beacon Rock was washed away by the Missoula Floods, leaving only an eroded lava plug.

The iconic rock is home to a unique trail, potentially harrowing for those afraid of heights, and some excellent climbs ranging from 5.7 to 5.11d. The south face of Beacon Rock has been the home of classic climbs in the Columbia River Gorge since it was first ascended in 1954 by John Ohrenschall and Gene Todd. The northwest face is open year-round, but it’s the south face that has been giving climbers a feel for big wall climbing for decades."

"Follow a twisting trail of ramps and stairways to the top of the largest basaltic monolith in the northwest. Then take in breathtaking views of the Columbia River and its striking gorge from this 848-foot core of an ancient volcano. Named by Lewis and Clark in 1805, the rock was bought by wealthy engineer and amateur botanist Henry J. Biddle in 1915, and he constructed this marvel of a trail. After his death, his children gave the rock to the state for a new park in 1932."

"Beacon Rock earned its name when Captains Lewis and Clark camped in its shadow on their way to the Pacific Ocean in 1805. The rock is an 848-foot basalt column that formed the core of an ancient volcano.

It towers over the Columbia River, and its sheer walls were unscaled until 1901—the date of the first recorded ascent of the rock. Notably, that first climb followed the route now covered by the intricate system of paths, bridges, and stairs that make up the trail today."

"The most famous rock in the Columbia Gorge makes a short and exciting hike for children, safe enough if they understand the hazards of stepping off the railed pathways. In 1915, Henry Biddle, Beacon Rock’s original owner, began building the trail, some of which still bears the marks of his blasting.

The rock was not set aside as a Washington State Park until Biddle, who had offered it to Washington and been refused, offered it to Oregon, which was eager to get it. At that point, Washington also became eager and accepted it. The views extend east to Bonneville Dam, west to Crown Point, and down to freight trains, boats, barges, and cars."

"One of the most recognized symbols of the Columbia River Gorge, Beacon Rock is also a fascinating, if short, hiking experience—and it’s not even all this Washington State Park has to offer. There’s also a rigorous climb to the scenic Hamilton Mountain, with a couple of amazing waterfalls along the way."

Beacon Rock Trail Reviews

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9/8/2018
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7/29/2009
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.
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3/10/2009
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.
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2/23/2008
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.
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5/24/2007
A nice little hike, little over an hour both ways. Steep for couch potatoes, but short. Great place to take out-of-town relatives for a neat view, or a nice stretch-the-legs if you''re driving by. Watch out for poison oak, there is lots of it, some even creeping right onto the trail. Had trouble keeping the dog out of it. Fun history. Busy on the weekends, but not overcrowded.
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7/30/2005
Helens is very active and currently steaming and quaking. We stayed the night at the base of the blast zone on the way to the Loowit trail. We found plenty of water by the falls at the top, although, we had to channel the water from the glacial runoff in to a little pool so as not to ruin our filter with glacial till. Part of the lava dome collapsed that morning that we were there, so call ahead to make sure the trail is still open. Mountain bikers were plentiful going up and down the trail, and parts are rutted out, but well worth the trip once at the top.
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2/3/2002
This trail is easy with a great climax. If you live in the area your missing out if you dont hike this trail. Choose a clear day for your hike and our wont forget it.
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1/9/2002
This definitely not the place to go if you're seeking solitude. The short trail to the top of this huge rock is peppered with big people, little people, fat people, skinny people, four legged "people" and more. The views are indeed great. Just plan to share them.
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Beacon Rock Trail Photos

Trail Information

Beacon Rock State Park
Nearby City
Beacon Rock State Park
Parks
Dog-friendly, Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Accessibility
Moderate
Skill Level
Washington State Parks, parks.state.wa.us/474/Beacon-Rock
Local Contacts
DeLorme: Washington Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 100 D3. Portland Rock Climbs and Northwest Oregon Rock cover the area
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Sep 2018