When Lewis and Clark explored their way down the Columbia River, they noticed the tides affecting the river levels around a large rock near the river bed. At that point, they knew the ocean wasn’t far away and named the area Beacon Rock. Beacon Rock is now a state park located 35 miles east of downtown Vancouver on HWY 14. It features rock climbing, picnic tables, and all year camping. The park does require a Discovery Pass for parking.
There is a 2.2-mile route to Beacon Rock, but the best trails for running is to head up the 2100 foot climb to Hamilton Mountain. There are several routes to make it to the summit.
Hardy Creek has Pool of the Winds, Rodney Falls and Hardy Falls, two of the best waterfalls on the Washington side. It’s a relatively easy run to the falls, but expect it to be crowded on weekends. Continue up Hardy Trail to reach the top of Hamilton Mountain.
A less crowded route to reach Hamilton Mountain is to start from the Equestrian trailhead. Head up the Equestrian Trail to the Hardy Ridge Trail Junction. Take the West Hardy Ridge Trail to the peak where it loops to East Hardy Ridge Trail. Descend down East Hardy Ridge to where it meets the Loop Trail. Head left on the Loop Trail/Equestrian Trail for a half-mile and turn right on the Hardy Creek Trail. Continue down the trail to view the falls, or head up Hamilton Mountain Trail for a 1.7-mile climb to the Hamilton Mountain summit.
Continue on Hamilton Mountain Trail for a mile and turn left on Don’s Cutoff. In a quarter-mile head right on Upper Hardy Creek Trail for three-quarters of a mile. Turn left on Bridge Trail for stunning views of evergreens, the gorge, and mountains. The trail joins East Hardy Ridge again where it loops back down to the Equestrian Trail and to the parking lot for a nice 14-mile, 3700′ elevation gain run.