This is a steep, rocky trail leading up past a pair of pretty waterfalls, to a high peak on the western end of the Columbia River Gorge. The trail leaves the day-use area of the Beacon Rock state park, cuts under a cluster of power lines, and then angles out around a ridge face to dip back into a deep river canyon. At about 1.3 miles, you'll pass Hardy Falls. Don’t forget to bring your maps. Even though we have not started with navigation skills, we may get the chance to learn some basic of map reading.
Pushing on past the falls, the trail starts climbing steeply northeast. The trail rolls up around sheer cliffs, which present spectacular views over the river. The trail switches back and forth as it nears the summit plateau, then runs straight up the last steep pitch through an expansive field of wildflowers (in season) to the true summit of Hamilton Mountain at 2,438 feet. The loop trail continues across the top of the mountain until, at about 4.5 miles, it turns back to the southwest to begin winding down around the northern ridgeline. The trail follows the Hardy Creek valley back to Rodney Falls. You'll rejoin the trail you hiked up just above Rodney Falls, about 7.3 miles into the hike.