Mileage: 1.9 miles loop
Elevation Gain/Highest: 384ft/750ft
Map: Green Trails Bridal Veil No 428, my GAIA
Favorite Eats After Hike: Pack A Cooler, Cascade Locks Ale House
4/29/2017 As part of the trail maintenance project leadership class I attended down in the Columbia Gorge, we walked the Hadley Trail from Beacon Rock campground to where it hits the Hamilton Mountain Trail, then headed down to the trailhead and back up the road to our cars at the campground. I really loved some parts of the loop and decided it deserved a trip report.
To start on the Hadley Trail, we parked in the few spots available across from campsite #11 next to the ADA designated TH. It is a rather unassuming beginning up a short set of easy switchbacks to where it levels out at a plaque on a petrified stump (mostly likely brought in) that shares the history of the 1930’s CCC built trail and Clyde Hadley, the first superintendent of Beacon Rock State Park.
The trail continues from here on a smooth grade through the second growth forest to a junction with Little Beacon Rock Trail. We took this (accidentally) and spent a few minutes exploring to where it runs out at the base of Little Beacon a 1/4 mile in. The ADA accessible trail sits mostly on aged, mossy covered talus and you feel like you are walking through a mystical medieval landscape. There were a couple spots to watch the edge of the trail where it is crumbling slightly and debris from winter storms is littered on the tread.
Once back on the Hadley Trail, we continued on in a gradual contour line to where the trail runs by a picnic table and under the power lines. It was obvious here that some folks cut up off trail to the top of Little Beacon, scarring the slope. If you want the summit, just head up the Little Beacon and scramble up the talus field instead.
From here the trail comes out to a lookout point with Hamilton Mountain, Bonneville Dam and the Gorge at the junction with the Hamilton Mtn. Trail. A sturdy bench awaits you. You can either turn left and go up to the summit of Hamilton and waterfalls. Or you can turn right as we did and head downhill towards the trailhead. The Hadley Trail has only 138’ft elevation gain, heading down the Hamilton adds the other 250ft in elevation change. The Hamilton is not ADA.
The trail here is wide and worn but there are definitely issues with drainage because mud pits abound causing hikers to walk around on the backslope and outslope. There is also a bridge over a stream that sustained damage in the last storm and needs repair. It will take a large step up (or down) and care with the boards are loose. We bent down the rebar that stuck up threatening to impale anyone who may take a spill here.
When we arrived down at the trailhead, we passed through the picnic tables, playground and historic CCC structure and onto the road to the campground. The road follows along Little Creek and up around the base of Little Beacon about 190ft in altitude above the trailhead for Hamilton.
I loved the old road posts and terrace wall built out of rock and covered in bright green moss. We could look up at the summit of Little Beacon, something you might miss if driving in the car. On the road before the trailhead we headed up, there was a sign for another trailhead in to the first switchback of the Hadley Trail.
We arrived back at our cars 1.9 miles and 2 hours later (1 hour or moving time). If you haven’t checked this trail out before, I highly suggest it if you are in the area for Hamilton or visiting the campground.
Directions: Beacon Rock State Park is located at 34841 SR 14 Skamania, WA, 22 miles east on Hwy 14 from Camas, WA. Be looking for the turn for the state park and campground as it angles up the hill to the left as you see Beacon Rock and its parking lot on the right hand side of the road. Turn left there and after 1/4 mile, stay with the road as it turns left past the Hamilton Mountain TH. Follow the road into the campground and across from campsite #11 you will see room for about 4 cars and a sign for the trail.
East on Hwy 14, continue 7 miles past the Bridge of the Gods Bridge junction, and turn right at the Beacon Rock State Park sign just past the TH for Beacon Rock on the left.