||6.6 miles round-trip
|| N: 45° 38' 35"
W: 121° 55' 30"
To Reach (From
Take I-84 eastbound
to Exit 41 (Eagle Creek). Turn right, and keep right for about a
mile. The parking area is at the end of the road.
Eagle Creek is
one of the most popular hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, perhaps the
most popular (after Multnomah Falls). The moderate slopes and accessibility,
as well as the various lengths, make this a popular choice for families
as well. Get here early, because this small trailhead parking area
fills quickly, and you could have a small hike just to get to the trailhead
if you're late.
The trail crosses
spectacular bridges over small gorges, passes beautiful waterfalls, and
offers amazing views as it winds around the sheer rock cliffs of a rugged
canyon. You'll start along Eagle Creek, but soon you'll climb well
above it, as the trail becomes chiseled into the rock face.
The foliage here
is covered with moss and ferns, which creates a lovely setting over the
creek far below. After 0.8 miles, the trail gets a little scary
for small children, as it hugs an exposed cliff, though the Forest Service
has installed hand rails for safety. You'll pass a viewpoint over
100-foot Metlako falls, as you approach 30-foot Punchbowl Falls, cascading
over a moss-covered bowl.
Many people turn
back here, after basking at the falls, but the trail offers much more.
Continue another 1.2 miles to High Bridge, a metal footbridge across a
massive ravine, 120 feet above the creek far below. Follow the trail
past Loowit Falls and Skooknichuck Falls to 120-foot Tunnel Falls and
another waterfall beyond for a total 12-mile round trip. For the
truly hardcore, you can finish out the traditional 26.8 mile backpack
to Wahtum Lake.
This is one of
the most hiked trails in the gorge for good reason. The spectacular
views from High Bridge, and many other parts of the trail and the beauty
of the several waterfalls make this a truly memorable journey.
The canyon is truly beautiful, and the images stay with you.
We hiked this
trail in a torrential downpour, speed-hiking to High-Bridge and back in
about 1.5 hours (a 6.6 mile round-trip). The idea was to help
condition for mountain climbing. The trail was downright scary in
places, but not really dangerous. My mom used to hike this
trail every week with me on her back when I was little, she tells me.
I can see why. We will definitely return to this one, finishing
it out to Tunnel Falls, or perhaps do the backpack.
The massive rainstorm
prevented any photo opportunities as well, which was a bummer. However,
we still had a great time, and look forward to doing it again!