Eagle Creek Trailhead & Trail (#440)

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed
 

Scenic View of Eagle Creek

In 2017, a major wildfire started about a mile up this trail and the Forest Service is still working on replacing burned bridges and repairing the trail. Many volunteers from the Pacific Crest Trail Association have chipped in to help, but for the time being, the trail remains closed to protect public safety from damage to the trail and post-fire hazards such as landslides.

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.  

When open, 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. And don't be lured into thinking you can pull off a short hike with just your flip-flops. In 2017, more than 150 hikers had to be rescued from the Eagle Creek Fire, which started only one mile into the trail. After emergency personnel assisted them to hike the full 14 mile length of the trail to its terminus at Wahtum Lake, many shivered through a hungry, exposed night outdoors. Many shared afterwards that they leared always to pack overnight essentials, even for a short day hike. 

Normally, 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 wildfire are still underway, so this network of trails remains closed. If you are hiking overnight, it is recommended that you park your car near the day use host site as it will be more secure there than at the trailhead. Around mile 5, you enter Wilderness where a free permit is required (available at the wilderness boundary).

Download a Trail Description and Map (pdf)

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Closed due to unstable conditions from a 2017 fire. Closed due to unstable landscape from a 2017 wildfire. Violators can be cited and fined.
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


Hiking

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Nature Viewing

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=29912