Fallen boulder raises questions: 'You'd be crushed'

Beacon Rock Park is a poplar hiking spot in Skamania County

STEVENSON, Wash. (KOIN) -- Randall Hagar was on a normal Sunday hike with his family on a trail at Beacon Rock Park when they stumbled upon on a huge boulder, leaning against the railing of the boardwalk.

Hagar, while climbing the popular Skamania County trail, started to wonder: Could someone have been hit by the rock, which he estimates weighs about 500 pounds?

"Lots of us hikers of course are in awe at the fact that this giant rock came down," he said, before alluding to the possibility that someone could have been hit.

"That would kill someone if it hit them."

On Monday, the green gate to the trail was locked. A sign posted by state employees said the trail was closed due to safety concerns. State officials didn't immediately respond to KOIN 6 News' request for more information on the boulder.

Portland State University geology professor Scott Burns said rock slides in the Columbia River Gorge are more common in the winter due to increased rainfall and the freeze-thaw process. When the soil around the rock freezes, Burns said, it expands up to 9%, moving the rocks and making them vulnerable to falling.

And if you do hike on trails with possible rock slides, Burns said it's important to be aware of what's around, and above, you.

"A helmet would not help you," he said, "you'd be crushed."


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