Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls

Central Gorge, Oregon

Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls
Punchbowl Falls (photographer: Margot Kelley)

Trail Features

  • WildflowersWildflowers
  • WaterfallWaterfall

Trail Description Driving Directions

alert Trail Alert, Jul 6, 2017: July 6, 2017: A wildfire in the Upper Eagle Creek area has closed the Eagle Creek trail (#440) starting at the boundary with Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness (to the north) and extending south to its terminus at the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. The portion of the trail from Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls is not affected by the closure at this time; however, it is recommended that before you hike this trail you check the Forest Service's Alerts & Notices page for up-to-date information about any additional closures.

May 11, 2017: This is not a dog-friendly trail because of steep cliffs. Two dogs have died here recently so please keep your dog at home.

Possibly as impressive as the Gorge itself is the story of how this recreational area was built. It was created in the early 1900s as part of an effort to begin preserving parkland areas in the Columbia River Gorge, where industry was rapidly encroaching. In some sections, workers used dynamite to blast the trail into the side of the cliffs. Soon thousands of people could enjoy areas that were impossible to traverse otherwise. The original trail has remained nearly unchanged to this day.
 
The Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls hike is one of the shorter options for taking in the beauty of the Gorge, and perhaps the most popular. Starting at the trailhead, take the wide, well-groomed trail along the creek for a stretch, then alternating in and out of a young deciduous forest before beginning to take on elevation.
 
Before you've gone a half-mile, you'll find yourself high above the creek, which has now opened up to a glorious valley. Many months the fog hangs low in the canyon, blocking your view of the snow-encrusted cliff-sides towering around you. In places, the trail is narrow and the drop-off is quite steep. Cable lines were built into the walls in sections to provide some stability.
 
Greenery abounds along the Eagle Creek trail. As the trail steadily gains elevation, it begins to divert away from the creek. You'll notice the quiet as you ascend away from the rushing water and deeper into the lush old-growth forests of Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock. Dewy ferns, moss-covered rocks, and sometimes poison oak blanket the forest floor. You will be surprised at the beauty and quiet of these sections, which at times are like scenes from a fairy tale.
 
- Hike descriptions were collaboratively written with the generous support of oregonhikers.org. + Read More

Trail Details

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Driving Directions

Eagle Creek Trailhead:  Traveling eastbound on I-84, take Exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road. You will go past a footbridge (that takes hikers up to Wauna Viewpoint) as the road narrows to one lane. Continue a short ways to a large parking lot; park only in designated spaces. NW Forest Pass required. Coming from the east, there is no westbound exit at Exit #41/Eagle Creek. You must continue on I-84 and get off at Exit #40/Bonneville Dam, get back on the interstate and head east for one mile to Exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road. You will go past a footbridge (that takes hikers up to Wauna Viewpoint) as the road narrows to one lane. Continue a short ways to a large parking lot; park only in designated spaces. NW Forest Pass required. + Read More

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