Columbia River Gorge
~8 miles, ~2100 feet elevation gain 

After Tuesday’s twentyish mile long, impromptu, urban bike ride, I woke up to a perfectly glorious, bluebird, Portland day and felt like…sleeping. With gas prices climbing steadily and spring rain causing exponential grass growth in my yard, I have been neglecting my training hikes and today…well, I just did not feel like moving. Instead, I took a leisurely amount of time to wake up, stretch and yawn, and then proceeded to putter about the house, mate tea in hand, engaging me, myself and I in an ongoing debate between being lazy, being productive and finishing some much needed house & yard work (note: the yard is officially entering chia-pet territory now), or getting my butt in gear to hike Hamilton Mountain, number two on my training hike list.

Hiking won. But only barely.

I don’t particularly enjoy hiking when I have a time frame or deadline in which to complete a hike; I like a sense of movement and purpose while I’m outside, but I also fond of meandering, smelling the flowers, snapping pictures and taking my time inventing creative ways to swear at steep hillsides. Part of the reason I was feeling noncommittal today was because I had an engagement to be back in Portland, ready and presentable by 5:30 pm. So, when I tossed all my last minute gear in the Subaru to head to Hamilton, I knew I was going to have to move.  

Hamilton is a hike I have done in all sorts of interesting weather, yet oddly I have never hiked Hamilton in good weather. And today was about as good as it gets.


Depending on what source you use, it’s between three and a half and four miles to Hamilton’s summit. It probably took at least two and half or three miles before my leg muscles decided to engage correctly. Biking and hiking clearly use very different muscle groups.

After passing Rodney Falls and the Pool of the Winds, the trail begins to climb, passing quickly from deep forest to more open slopes until suddenly encountering the sheer cliff face below the summit of Hamilton Mountain and great views of the Columbia.

Today I didn't linger long. Just blazed through the trail in under four hours, with a lunch stop on the Saddle to contemplate views of the Columbia River Gorge and Table Mountain.

Hamilton's very distinct cliff face
"The Saddle"

According to some sources, Table Mountain is the power climb of the gorge- the first section of the final climb is one of the steepest official trails in the gorge. Damn. And it's on my to-do list. So I ate my peanut butter and jelly and contemplated Table and was very glad to be leaving it for another day.