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Eagle Creek


Hiked:   Summer, 1999
Length:   6.6 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain:   600 feet
USGS Quad:   Bonneville Dam
GPS Coordinates:    N: 45 38' 35"
 W: 121 55' 30"
Photo Gallery:   None Available

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To Reach (From Portland):

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.

The Trail:

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.

Our Take:

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!


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