Minor Falls around Pool of the Winds/Hardy Falls
Finding much of anything in Beacon Rock State Park that is "Off the Beaten Path" these days is quite a challenge. It isn't the most popular set of trails in the Columbia River Gorge, but it is also a very popular location. However, in this case the features are not remarked on the maps, and perhaps they should be.
Hardy Falls is very difficult to see most of the year due to the growing brush between the viewpoint and the falls itself. Pool of the Winds is nice and a somewhat unique feature (if small), but it is a spot only one person can "enjoy" at a time, and even that is not especially easy to enjoy considering the difficulty of even looking into the face of the winds coming out of the crack in the rocks.
However, the location of those two features is only one small part of a very attractive, if not especially well remarked, set of falls the comes cascading down the side of the hill and creates quite a nice and attractive point on the trail up to Hamilton Mountain.
These photos feature a few scenes from this location, other than the named features. The named features are only a small part of what is located at this stream crossing.
What the Photos Show:
1. A view of the cascades of the stream from the main trail that continues up the hill to Hamilton Mountain. Hardy Falls is out of sight down the hill from here, and the Pool of Winds is up the hill and nearly impossible to see. It is the crack in the rock near the top of the photo.
2. From the Pool of the Winds Viewpoint, this is the look down the hill and downstream towards the bridge the main trail uses to cross the stream.
3. From the main trail, approaching the bridge over the stream from the west side. The crack in the rock that forms the Pool of the Winds is visible towards the top.
4. One of the trails that goes down to the Hardy Falls viewpoint runs beside a lesser stream that joins the main stream just before it crashes over Hardy Falls. This small stream isn't much to talk about, but it is reasonably attractive.
5. Another reasonably attractive stream falls from the hillside next to the trail near the Pool of the Winds and Hardy Falls.
- Hiking and Walking
Viewpoint East of Hardy Falls and Bridge
While it really isn't too much of a viewpoint compared to the summit of Hamilton Mountain, there is a small viewpoints of sorts positioned just uphill and east of the stream crossing at Hardy Falls and Pool of the Winds. While not stunning, if you have come all the way to Hardy Falls you might as well continue up hill another 200 feet or so and see what there is to see from this viewpoint.
The viewpoint is created by a 90 degree turn in the trail on the edge of a steep dropoff as the trail comes around the edge of the canyon in which Hardy Falls and Pool of the Winds sit.
From here it is possible to see eastward to the hills on the other side of the Columbia River, and somewhat west of Beacon Rock. The back side of Beacon Rock itself is somewhat obscured by the curve in the hillside.
- Hiking and Walking
Upper Picnic Area
This small picnic area serves no trailheads, unlike the "Lower Picnic Area" slightly further down the hill. It is somewhat less popular than that picnic area due to it not serving the trails, and it doesn't have a playground. However, there is a somewhat better view here through the trees from one or two of the picnic tables on the uphill side of the picnic shelter.
The shelter here is available by reservation only, and is closed and locked the rest of the time.
There are flush toilets available at the restroom building here.
The road into the facility is paved, but part of the parking area is gravel. The road is narrow (as is the road up from the highway) and so I would not recommend this area for any sort of larger vehicle.
How to Get Here: From the Beacon Rock area along Highway 14, take the narrow paved road that goes up the hill to the camping area. Be very careful as this road is narrow and you never know what is around the tight curve. Past the "lower picnic area" you will come to a road on the left (see photo 2) that goes up the hill through the forest. It is marked "upper picnic area".
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
Little Beacon Rock: Not Terribly Impressive
Not noted on most of the signs and maps at the major trailheads, but noted on the trail junction of the out=and-back trail that leads to it, Little Beacon Rock is only a few rock spires pointing skyward, among the various trees. It isn't too impressive from its top, where the trail goes. It is only when you pass underneath it on the road leading to the Upper Campground and Upper Picnic Area that it is easy to see that this rock resembles the big one.
The trail leading up here branches off of the the trail between the upper campground and the main Hamilton Mountain trail that starts at the lower upper picnic area. The trail is slightly steep in one place, but it isn't very long and for the most part is fairly easy. You will want to watch your step as the trail crosses the boulder field, as sinkholes do sometimes open up in the trail here.
- Hiking and Walking