Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Afternoon on Hardy Ridge

What does one do when their Friday off gets cluttered with appointments and tasks - but all they really want to do is go hiking?  Answer - schedule the chores in the morning and go hiking in the afternoon!

And - choose a nearby trail.

Lovely backlit leaves

When I'm pressed for time but still want a good bit of exercise, the Hardy Ridge Trail always fits the bill.  Located in Beacon Rock State Park, it's close-in location (Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge) means a quick drive for those of us in the Portland area.  If you're looking for the most hiking bang for your buck, this path delivers!

Bright colored leaves and dewdrops

Friday was predicted to be the lone sunny day for this final week of October, before more rain moved in again (just in time for the weekend, of course!).  So after completing all my morning commitments, I eagerly loaded up my backpack and camera.  Pulling into the Hardy Ridge parking lot at high noon, I knew I'd have to hustle if I was going to complete the entire 9-mile loop before dark.

Yellow leaves and blue sky

The first mile or so follows an old abandoned road, lined on both sides by thick forests.  The leaves were in full color mode and I took many "photo breaks" to capture their lovely hues.  Bright sunshine backlit some leaves and leftover morning dewdrops, making them sparkle like jewels.

The famous "boot rock"

After following the old road, and detouring on a short trail through the forest, my climbing began!  With a total elevation gain of 2500 feet, I climbed for quite awhile.  Although the autumn colors were mostly over in these higher forests, I did pass by one local landmark, an unusual boot-shaped rock sitting on an old tree stump.

A lot drier now than last spring!

Arriving at the junction of my loop trail, I had to get a GoPro selfie to compare with the photo I took here during last spring's soggy hike.

Columbia River view from on high

Then I kept climbing until my path leveled out on the ridgetop.  Unlike last spring's foggy, rainy hike, today's sunny skies unveiled the fabulous Gorge views this trail is known for.  The Columbia River spread out below, like a wide blue ribbon.

Table Mountain

Heading due east across the ridge, I was treated to this grand view of Table Mountain.

My route along Hardy Ridge

Everything looked so different in the fall!  Instead of lush green foliage and vividly colored wildflowers, the treeless ridgetop was mostly brown.  But I was loving the big blue sky and panoramic vistas.

Dazzling green moss

A sketchy user trail takes hikers across Hardy Ridge's spine until terminating at Phlox Point.  As I approached the end, I noticed a huge patch of electric lime-green moss covering the ground.

Mt Hood made an appearance

Phlox Point makes a wonderful resting/lunch/photo point.  Today's sunny skies meant I could see the entire Gorge and Columbia River spread out below.  Mt Hood's pointy top rose above the Gorge foothills, sporting her new coat of winter white.

My lunch view

Rest break spots don't get much better than this!

Patchwork color on the ridge

After soaking in the views and enjoying my snack, I knew it was time to get moving if I wanted to get back to my car before dark.  At least the downhill trip would be quicker than my climb!

Leaves in afternoon light

So back across the ridge I went, snapping a few more shots of the fab view.  I could see clouds starting to move in from the west - tomorrow's rainstorm approaching.  Made me glad I rearranged my schedule and fit this hike in today's weather window.

Barren trees give way to river views

I took a different trail back down the ridge.  It switchbacked steeply and endlessly.  I thought I'd never reach the next abandoned road section, but of course it did finally materialize.  Following a flat stretch for a bit, I enjoyed more Gorge glimpses through the now-bare forest.

Last leaf

There was still quite a bit of green hanging on in these forests.  And a few golden leaves too.

Beautiful woods walk

Late afternoon light illuminated the adjacent woods beautifully.

Late afternoon light on the forest

And lower down, the trees still retained their golden leaves.  But not for long....I could tell autumn colors were nearing the season's tail end.

Last of the fall color

Finally I reached the same road I'd walked in on.  From here it was an extremely long mile-plus trudge to my car - that seemed to take forever (I swore the trail stretchers had been out!)  But the promise of a reward - beers and burger at one of my favorite Gorge brewpubs had me arriving at my car well before sundown.  (Beer and food are always good motivators!) 

Leaf pile

The entire month of October was so rainy, I'm glad I took advantage of this rare sunny day to get my weekly outdoor fix.


  1. Hello Linda,
    Autumn mood in the forest, still sun and so beautiful panorama.
    Perfect to enjoy the day ... great photos
    Greetings Frank

  2. Fresh and well you are looking Linda. It must be exhilarating walking along those trails and seeing that wonderful scenery with a gorgeous autumn colours. My favourite shot is the one of the late afternoon light and the trees

  3. I love the lighting in the third to last shot! Wow! Your photos are always gorgeous, but the thing I noticed was your selfie. I'm always trying to find a better way to carry my SLR without the obnoxious case and shoulder strap. It looks like you use a similar setup to me, which isn't my favorite because it scratches my neck. I wish they made attachments so an SLR was both comfortable to carry and easy to access.

  4. Adoro estas caminhadas pela montanha e esta é espectacular e muito bela.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

  5. Hello, I love this walk in the woods and the view of the river. The leaves and colors are pretty. Gorgeous views and photos. Thanks for sharing your hike. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

  6. Linda, another gorgeous installment of photos! I bet you and I would enjoy a nice long nature walk together! I hope you have a great weekend. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  7. I always enjoy your posts, Linda. I keep them in my inbox until I've had a chance to comment. I look at your wonderful pictures and bask in their beauty. :-)

  8. Nice! It is too snowy here to hike most of our trails now. I am getting ready to see ski posts from you!

  9. You were very fortunate to have that sunny day, October sure was a wet one! Love the late afternoon light through the forest!

  10. What a wonderful day to spend the afternoon! The Columbia River is such a gorgeous sight.

  11. Another beautiful set of photos - you certainly live near lots of incredible scenery.

  12. Those Bigleaf Maples are really striking!

  13. Majestic views! So much contrast in colours and scenery. I feel I know your backyard as well as I know my own! :)

  14. Nice! Following your blog is like a never-ending bucket list of hikes I need to do! :)

  15. What great afternoon sunlight. The Gorge is just beautiful. Sometimes, I think those trail stretchers are just ahead of me too, Linda. Great pics!

  16. That's a great area to have on your doorstep and the Columbia River Gorge looks a real bonus for many miles inland. Water really makes a landscape sparkle as that extra special ingredient.

  17. I recall this hike from last spring! Boy Mt Hood looks snowy, I bet you have been skiing!! :)

  18. The chores can always wait and can be done anytime, so good choice! I do enjoy your hiking photos. I'm not able to do much hiking these days so your lovely scenery is much appreciated :)

  19. So glad you managed to get this wonderful hike in before the rain. The autumn colours as you look through them to the sky are magical for me.

  20. How nice to have such a pretty hike nearby!

  21. Nice hike! I've done this twice because the first time was the only time I had ever forgotten to bring my camera...oh the horror! Had to go back again just to take pictures!

  22. I think we should base more of our lives on that first paragraph. Nice.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  23. Hi! Mountain views are very beautiful. Autumn leaves are very nice. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you have nice days.

  24. Nice shots of a pretty place

  25. Such wonderful vistas! I love seeing the autumn hues. There are two Table Mountains near where I live that I hope to hike one day.


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