#38 in the Northwest Book, February 15, 2010; Easy – 2.2 miles round trip, 600 feet elevation gain.
We had planned to do this hike in the morning, but a last-minute conflict meant we had to postpone until naptime. That’s right: we skipped naps to go hiking. That was the adventure portion of this hike. Along this time were Becky, Margaret, Ben, Will and Lucy (in the Kelty).
Washington’s Beacon Rock State Park has an interesting past. The rock itself was given its name by Lewis and Clark (yes, that Lewis and Clark), and was purchased by one Henry Biddle in 1915. Biddle painstakingly carved a switch-backing trail up the side of the eponymous Rock, and when the Army Corps of Engineers suggested the rock be demolished, Biddle offered it to the state of Washington. They apparently only took him up on his offer after Oregon started showing interest. (This hike, however, is not the one that goes up the rock. There are actually several other hikes around and near Beacon Rock.)
There is a parking lot about halfway to the campground from highway 14. The trail led us about half a mile up what felt like a steep grade with 30 pounds of toddler on my back. After the initial climb, the trail levels out and opens up; you briefly leave the woods for a breathtaking view of the Columbia river, all the way to Bonneville Dam.
After this, the trail delves back into the woods, and after another half mile of ups and downs, you reach the cleft through which pours Rodney Falls. There’s a railed landing and a place where you can lean out and score a photo:
The book notes that this, and the bridge about 30 feet below, are a good turn-around point for casual hikers such as ourselves (and our kids). The return trip is an easy downhill slope, during which it’s easier to appreciate the peaceful woodsy surroundings.
Notes: Open year-round. We saw lots and lots of dogs easily navigating this trail.