Washington is filled with state parks. There are quite a number them that parallel the Columbia River. Beacon Rock State Park is one such park and it’s a place I’ve been wanting to visit for about a year – ever since I’d read about it in the local monthly Yakima Magazine.
In addition to being a place with picnic tables, rest areas, a boat ramp, and green fields through which to hike to views of the Columbia River, probably the Star of The Show is Beacon Rock itself, and with good reason. It’s an 848-foot tall volcanic plug – a remnant of what was once a volcano. The exterior was eroded away by ancient floodwaters to reveal the lithified basalt plug within the volcano. It was once called Castle Rock but after its 1915 purchase by Henry Biddle, the Beacon Rock name was restored. Biddle built an amazing trail of 53 switchbacks up to the top (complete with railing) and donated it to the state of Washington.
The park is located outside of Skamania, WA, along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which parallels the Columbia River for some distance. To hike this trail, you’ll need a Discover Pass, which you can purchase for a year for $30 or you can buy a day pass for $10 right there near the trailhead.
The majority of the one-mile (one way) trail is paved or covered with a wooden boardwalk, and near the top, the pavement gives way to dirt and rock.
It took me about 1-1/2 hours, give or take, to go up and then back down the trail. People of all ages were hiking the trail, which I would call easy – moderate. My knees took going up better than they did going down, and I was thankful for the handrailing on the way down.
I’m pretty tickled to have done that hike – it’s something I’ve wanted to do and I certainly got my exercise for the day.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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