Eagle Creek Trailhead & Trail (#440)


Area Status: Open
Scenic View of Eagle Creek

This spectacular cliffside hike passes through a forested basalt cliff overlooking Eagle Creek. It affords spectacular views of the creek's slot canyon, where a cool, ethereal fog offers a reprieve on a hot summer day. Small waterfalls trickle along the sides of the cliff, and the trail passes many larger waterfalls, including the iconic Punch Bowl Falls, which is accessed from a side trail about 2 miles up the trail. About 3 miles up, hikers will encounter the aptly named High Bridge, which traverses a narrow gorge 150 feet above the creek. Many hikers choose to backpack as far as Tunnel Falls, about seven miles up the trail, where they can pass behind falling waters.  Around mile 5, you enter Wilderness where a free permit is required (available at the wilderness boundary).

This is one of the most popular trails in the Columbia River Gorge and can be a crowded experience on summer weekends. Sheer cliffs have no hand rails on parts of this trail, so this hike is not recommended for children or those afraid of heights, despite its gentle overall grade. Please also be mindful of your pets and be sure to wear proper footwear.

In 2017, more than 150 hikers had to be rescued from the Eagle Creek Fire by emergency personnel who assisted them up the remaining 12 miles and 3,000 foot elevation gain to the Wahtum Lake Trailhead. Many shivered through a hungry, exposed night outdoors and shared afterwards that they learned why it's so important to pack overnight essentials, even for a short day hike. 

The trail connects to several other remote, multi-day loop backpacking opportunities in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness on the Hood River Ranger District in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It is also a popular alternative route to the Pacific Crest Trail.  However, recovery efforts from the 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire are still underway on some of these multi-day loop trail opportunities (Ruckel Creek #403, Tanner Butte #401, Eagle-Tanner #433, and Tanner Cutoff #448 trails remain closed).  Please check the Mt Hood National Forest and Columbia River Gorge National Forest Closures for the latest information.

Download a Trail Description and Map (pdf)

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 11/7/22: Restroom closed for the winter; portable toilets available. A valid recreation pass is required for parking. 
Fees: $5/vehicle/day
Permit Info: Wilderness Permits are required when entering Mark O Hatfield Wilderness. Free permits are self-issued at the Wilderness boundary.  
Restrictions:
  • Aircraft/UAS/drone takeoffs and landings are prohibited at this site. 
  • Jumping or diving off of Punchbowl Falls is prohibited.
  • Campfire prohibited June 1 - Sept 15. Fires not allowed within 100 feet of the trail during other times of the year.
  • All dogs must be on leash. Each year several unleashed dogs fall off of or chase other dogs off of the steep cliffs.
  • Motor vehicles and bikes are prohibited.
  • Additional Wilderness restrictions apply in Mark O Hatfield Wilderness.
Closest Towns: Cascade Locks, OR
Passes: A valid Recreation Pass is required at Eagle Creek trailhead.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

General Information

Directions:

From Portland, OR: Travel east on Interstate 84 to exit #41 which is just past the interstate tunnel. Get in the right lane before entering the tunnel. Take a right at the end of the off ramp and follow the signs to the Eagle Creek Trailhead/Picnic Area

From Cascade Locks, OR: Travel west on Interstate 84 approximately 3 miles to Bonneville Dam exit #40 (there is no westbound exit #41). Turn left at the stop sign, go under the interstate and then turn left onto the eastbound freeway entrance. Travel east approximately 1 mile on Interstate 84 to exit #41 which is just past the Interstate tunnel. Get in the right lane before entering the tunnel. Take a right at the end of the off ramp and follow the signs to the Eagle Creek Trailhead/Picnic Area


Activities

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:

This trail follows a cliff for portions and can be very dangerous when slippery.  Not suitable for young children. 

Backpacking

Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

One of the most popular backpacking trails; there are multiple camping sites along the trail.  Also loop opportunities with other Gorge trails abound. Please consult a good, up to date map when planning backpacking trips. 

Viewing Scenery

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Scenery:

This trail offers some of the most spectacular scenery of any trail in the Gorge, including at least 5 waterfalls.

General Info:

Safety Information

CURRENTLY CLOSED DUE TO DAMAGE FROM A 2017 WILDFIRE


Permits & Regulations

Around milepost 5, hikers must register and issue themselves a permit. Read the regulations carefully and attach the permit visibly on your backpack.