- Elevation: 2,100 feet
- Distance: 7.5 miles RT
- Washington Discover Pass required at trailhead
Hamilton Mountain is on the Washington side of the Gorge. You need to purchase either a Discover Pass ($30 annually) or purchase a daily pass for $10. If you purchase the Discover Pass, it's good for Washington State parks. We opted to buy the day pass as this is the only time in 2 years where we wanted to hike somewhere that required it. It's a moderate climb in the beginning and you come across waterfalls about a mile in. Head down to the right for views of Hardy Falls. Back the way you came and continue on the trail. Take the quick side-trail to the Pool of Winds. Get a quick picture (and a quick spray shower) of the falls and head back down to the bridge. You can climb a little bit on the rocks here. Continue on the trail until you hit an intersection. I recommend staying right and climbing the steep switch backs to the top of the mountain. Before you reach the top there will be several spots that offer great views looking east and west down the Columbia River. The summit is somewhat anti-climactic. We ate our snacks here but I think it'd be better to continue down the other (north) side of the mountain until you hit a large patch of land that flattens out. There is a great view of Table Mountain and the OG/natural Bridge of the Gods. Aaron explained to me that it was formed by a massive landslide. On a clear day, there are also views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood. I prefer the views from Dog Mountain personally. Continue down the gravel road and follow signs back to the main trail. You'll pass the waterfalls one more time and be back at your car before you know it.
The Trout Lake Ice Caves are not a well-known hike in the area. I learned about it from the Curious Gorge book. It takes about 2 hours to get there from Portland and the majority of the drive is just lovely. You go east on 84 to Hood River and then cross the bridge. Back track a bit west on 14 and take a right onto 141 toward Trout Lake. Continue 4 miles past the Mt Adams Ranger Station and continue onto Forest Road 24. When we went in April, we ran out of driving room as the road was still packed with snow. We parked and walked the short distance to the cave. The caves themselves are small but you will want gloves, headlamps/flashlights and layers of clothing. It is wet and slippery in there.
You can make a loop out of the cave. The better part of the cave is to the left of the stair entrance. To make the loop and exit out to the right of the stair entrance, you almost need to get on hands and knees. Take mindful steps, it's very easy to knock over the ice formations (ask Aaron). Best month to visit is May.
There are several hikes in the area that I haven't done yet:
I moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2012. I quickly identified myself as a hiker. I want to document my experiences so that I can refer to them for myself and others to provide the best hiking experience. I also hope to learn more about hiking from others comments and recommendations.