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Beacon Rock State Park - Beacon Rock

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA
View map below

Length

2.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 600 ft.
Highest Point: 848 ft.

Rating

3.20 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
Trail Closed 5/29/21: The Beacon Rock Trail is closed due to damage to the guardrail and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
 
 

Beacon Rock's native name is "Che-Che-op-tin," which translates to "the navel of the world." Native Americans weren't far off in their comparison, since the 848-foot basalt column once formed the core, or belly, of an ancient volcano.

During the ice age, icebergs and flowing waters slowly carved away the softer exterior rock, leaving Beacon Rock sticking straight out of the north banks of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark camped here on their way to the Pacific, and it was at Beacon Rock that they first noticed the tides affecting water levels in the Columbia River, more than 120 miles from the mouth. It was this team of explorers that gave the rock its modern name, though they were initially undecided on whether it should be "Beacon Rock" or "Beaten Rock."

Its sheer walls were unscaled until 1901, and the modern trail to the top follows that original route. Climbers are still able to scale the rock today, but only on the northwest face. The rest of the rock is closed to climbing, to protect nesting falcons.

From a developed parking area on the south side of the highway, the hike heads up immediately -- after all, you have 848 feet to climb in less than a mile. But the grade is surprisingly gentle, with plenty of places to catch your breath and enjoy a view. Moss covered boulders line the wide gravelled path at the base. The trail then curves around to the south side of the rock, where you encounter handrails and a sturdy boardwalk trail that switchbacs all the way to the top of the mountain.

Along the way, the trail winds in and out of trees -- surprisingly huge for growing out of a rock mountainside. You'll enjoy views up- and down-river of the mighty Columbia, and far below is a boat launch and the day use area of Beacon Rock State Park. Even on foggy days, the views are interesting and the fog can add to the mystique of the trail.

There is also a small lake visible in the meadows at western edge of the rock. This is Riddell Lake, accessible via a wide trailhead at the picnic area at the base of Beacon Rock. It's a nice option for folks who might not want to venture up to the summit, since it offers an interesting southern view of the monolith but beware of bugs! Roundtrip to the lake is less than half a mile.

The summit of Beacon Rock features a sign offering you a congratulations on summitting, as well as an expansive view upriver towards Bonneville Dam. Enjoy the view and then head back the way you came.

 

Beacon Rock State Park - Beacon Rock

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.6291, -122.0219 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Columbia River Gorge - WA

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Mountaineers Books South Cascades - Dan Nelson

Buy the Green Trails Columbia Gorge West No. 428S map

Getting There

From I-205 in Vancouver, drive east on State Highway 14 for 34 miles. The Rock is located on the south side of the highway, just past the Beacon Rock Park Headquarters. Parking for about 30 cars is available at the base of the rock. A Discover Pass machine is at the eastern parking lot, and a picnic table is located at the western lot. Restrooms with flush toilets are available, as well as one ADA-accessible privy, both at the eastern lot.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
Trail Closed 5/29/21: The Beacon Rock Trail is closed due to damage to the guardrail and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
 

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Beacon Rock State Park - Beacon Rock

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