Beacon Rock is a the core of an ancient volcano. Over thousands of years, hundreds of massive floods (originating in Missoula Montana... more ») careened through the Columbia River Gorge and carved away the volcano's main structure, leaving only the lava core we see today. Depending on the definition and expert you talk to, it is the second largest free standing monolith in the northern hemisphere!
The trail up Beacon Rock is short and manageable for day-hikers of all ages, at just under a mile each direction. It is well maintained, although not paved most the way.
BACKGROUND: Beacon Rock is 848 feet (258 m) tall and is composed of Basalt. The United States Army Corps of Engineers planned to destroy the rock to supply material for the jetty at the mouth of the ColumbiaIn. In 1915 Henry Biddle purchased the rock for $1 and over the next three years constructed the switchbacks and trail, most of which is still in use today. After his death, Biddle's family tried to make it a state park. At first Washington refused the gift, but changed its position when Oregon offered to accept. less «