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Pool of the Winds Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

A rainbow inside Pool of the Winds (Steve Hart)
Rodney Falls (Steve Hart)
Hardy Falls (Don Nelson)
The short hike to the Pool of the Winds and Hardy Falls (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Hamilton Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rodney Falls
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • High point: 1,035 feet
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

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. On the return, you can turn onto the Hadley Trail and complete the Little Beacon Rock Loop Hike.

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 the Hadley Trail, which 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.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • The Disabled Hiker's Guide to Western Washington and Oregon by Syren Nagakyrie
  • Oregon & Washington: 50 Hikes With Kids by Wendy Gorton
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington by Susan Elderkin
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Washington: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer
  • Pokin' Round the Gorge by Scott Cook
  • 100 Hikes: Northwest Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Washington by Roddy Scheer with Adam Sawyer
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.