Pool of the Winds Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Hamilton Mountain Trailhead
- End point: Rodney Falls
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Out and Back
- Distance: 2.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Difficulty: " Moderate" is not in the list of possible values (Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Very Difficult) for this property.
- Seasons: Year round
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
The hike to Pool of the Winds should be one of the most popular hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. Don't get us wrong, it is popular (and often crowded), but this hike really feels like it should be as well known as Multnomah Falls or Ponytail Falls.
The hike starts from the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, which comes complete with flushing toilets, picnic tables and even playground equipment. The wide, well-groomed trail starts through a forested area and after about 2/10 of a mile comes to a powerline clearing. The clearing provides beautiful views of Bonneville Dam and Hamilton Mountain. There's even a bench to relax on. There's a junction here with a trail that leads down to the campground.
After the powerlines, the trail climbs another couple hundred feet then takes a level course across a couple of large footbridges over side creeks.
After about a mile from the trailhead, the trail comes to Hardy Creek. There are three named waterfalls here, even though they could all be considered part of the same waterfall. First, you'll come to a side trail leading downhill to a viewpoint of the lowest tier, known as Hardy Falls. This is a 90 foot plunge straight into a beautiful green pool. There's a wood-railed viewpoint at the top of cliffs, making the view safe.
Back on the main trail, a short distance past the Hardy Falls Spur is a signed spur heading up to the left, leading to Pool of the Winds. At Pool of the Winds, Hardy Creek is channeled into a funnel-like chamber in the cliff face. The water rushes straight down the slot in the wall, around a log that's fallen directly into the shaft. The water has created a deep pool that circulates constantly, creating odd wind currents. The entire scene is viewed through a slot in the rock only about 10 feet wide. When the sun is just right, a rainbow is formed in the spray inside the chamber.
From the Pool of the Winds junction, the main trail switchbacks down to a bridge over Hardy Creek at the base of the Rodney Falls, the middle waterfall here. Rodney Falls is made up of a number of channels that weave their way across the rock face. It changes greatly with changes in water flow. The dogleg bridge over Hardy Creek is the end of this hike, but the trail continues up to the summit of Hamilton Mountain.
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