Newcomers to the Columbia Gorge driving eastbound from Portland can’t help but notice the cinder cone protruding into the Columbia River. At a height of 848 feet, Beacon Rock is an awesome sight. When visitors learn they can hike it, they are overcome either with excitement or dread or, quite likely, both.
Beacon Rock is a hike near and dear to all local hikers’ hearts here in the Gorge. A recent visitor met a couple coming down who have been married for over 40 years and have been hiking the rock regularly every year. “We used to run it when we were young,” the husband gushed while his wife beamed proudly.
It’s not clear which is more intriguing: the views along the journey, or the history behind its existence. You’ll just have to hike it and decide for yourself. This was actually one of the places where Lewis and Clark set up camp. They also named it.
The trail is a little more unusual than most, because it is comprised of steps, platforms and other manmade terrain. This was the only way Henry Biddle – the man who funded the rock on behalf of the area – and his crew could build the trail in 1915. Regardless of the modern materials, it is one of the oldest hikes in the Gorge.
The entire way up there is no shortage of views. At each corner you round, you’ll want to stop for photos and to just take in the splendor of the Columbia River as you ascend higher. But keep moving, because nothing compares to the 360-degree view at the top!