Recreational Area

Beacon Rock State Park. For several hundred years this 848-foot rock was a landmark for river travelers, including Native Americans, who recognized this point as the last rapids of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark are thought to have been the first white men to see the volcanic remnant. Even most casual hikers can make the steep but safe trek up to the top of the rock—allow about 45–60 minutes round-trip. More serious hikers should head to the trailhead for Hamilton Mountain, which is reached via a beautiful, though arduous, 8-mile ramble over a roaring waterfall, through dense temperate rain forest, and finally up to 2,400-foot summit with breathtaking views up and down the Gorge. 34841 Hwy. 14, Skamania, Washington, 98648. 509/427–8265; www.parks.wa.gov. $10.

Falls Creek Falls. You'll find one of the most spectacular waterfalls hikes in the Northwest in the Wind River section of 1½-million-acre Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The large, free parking area (with restrooms) is at the end of graded, unpaved forest road off paved Wind River Road, about 20 miles north of Stevenson. The trail meanders through dense forest and crosses a couple of sturdy suspension bridges en route to the more spectacular Lower Falls (a relatively easy 3½-mile round-trip). If you're up for more of an adventure, continue to the Upper Falls overlook, which adds about 3 more miles and makes it a loop hike—parts of this section are quite steep. End of NF 057, Carson, Washington, 98610. 509/395–3400; www.fs.usda.gov/main/giffordpinchot.

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