Saturday, April 23, 2022

Hike: East Hardy Ridge Trail, N Bonneville, WA

AllTrails map

Getting There

Interesting day for hiking. Originally, I was on the Oregon side of the river to hike a route from Larch Mountain Road to Devil's Rest. The road is seasonally closed until late May at milepost 10. There was a little bit of snow on the side of road but otherwise looked pretty good. I didn't reach the gate because a large tree was blocking the road. Some intrepid folks had cut a car width section but I didn't want to deal with fallen trees. I immediately turned around.

My backup plan when hiking in the Gorge was to head to Beacon Rock. I made a quick stop in Cascade Locks to grab some gardening gloves since I'd left my other gloves at home. (D'oh). I crossed the Bridge of the Gods to the WA side and headed west towards Beacon Rock. The parking lot was full of cars and there was a "Lot Full" sign at the foot of the hill for Hamilton Mountain/Hadley Campground. There was a chance I'd find an open spot but decided to make a run at Phlox Point.

The Equestrian Parking lot had a dozen or so vehicles but still several open spots. The weather was warm but I stilled donned my usual base layer and jacket. 


The trailhead is accessible from the Equestrian Camp Parking Lot, a bit west of Beacon Rock & Hamilton Mountain.

Take WA-14 from Vancouver, WA east toward N Bonneville. Just after Doetsch Ranch you'll see the Ranger Station on the north side of the road just before the Beacon Rock parking lot. The road winds up the hill for a bit. Keep a lookout for the the Equestrian Camp turn off.

The Hike

Length: 6.51 mi
Elevation gain: 1,427 ft
Moving time: 2:06:34
Avg. pace: 19:27
Calories: 1,115
Total time: 2:10:02 

I hiked up the East Hardy Ridge Trail. After the cutoff for the Upper Hardy Creek Trail the snow started to get more widespread. There were spots of exposed trail but lots of hiking on snow/slush. When I reached the end of the road and started on the "foot traffic only" section, it was really snowy. I opted to not put on microspikes but was slippin' and a-slidin' a bit. I'd been noticing canine footprints along the way but figured there'd' been lots of weekend hikers with their dogs.

At the first switchback, I noticed fresh prints and one kind of looked like a (black?) bear print (wider than the canine, deep claw marks.) I tried to rationalize that it was just a large domestic animal and the print was distorted a bit but I still felt uneasy. I'd passed a pair of hikers on their descent earlier but it wasn't enough to convince me.

I turned around and headed back down. I thought I might try getting to Phlox Point via the West Hardy Ridge trail but also was keeping an eye on my knees and other joints. I was glad to be out in nature and didn't want to push it.

In the end, I had minimal pain in my hammies or IT band and figured I'd save my legs for another hike on Sunday. I still hiked about 6 miles and 1,400' of climb. Not bad. I'll be back when there is less snow and it's not a slippery/slushy.