Eagle Creek to Wahtum Lake
Central Gorge, Oregon
A sign along the Eagle Creek trail points the way to Wahtum Lake. (photographer: Debbie Asakawa)
Hike Details
Type:
Out and back
Distance:
25.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
5210 feet
Difficulty:
Expert
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
No
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
WildflowersWaterfallWaterfall
COVID-19 advisory from our partner Ready, Set, GOrge! (readysetgorge.com): 

Increased visitation puts increased pressure on the Gorge’s limited resources.  If you’re planning a trip to our region, please help keep our communities safe by following CDC and local health guidelines and respecting the requests of individual businesses. Please plan before you go and always have a Plan B in case your destination is too crowded or closed. When recreating on trails, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other hikers and bikers.

Fire Impacts

This trail was impacted by the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. We encourage hikers to be extra alert when hiking in burned areas in the Gorge. Falling trees, landslides, and debris flows are more likely in the burned areas because of unstable soil due to less vegetation to hold it in place.
 



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On the Trail

This is the ultimate Eagle Creek hike, a strenuous 25.5-mile backpack into the high country of the Columbia Gorge. Since it was blasted out of sheer cliffs in the 1910s, the Eagle Creek Trail (Trail 440) has been one of the most popular hikes in the Gorge. The hike up to Wahtum Lake, however, ranges far past the trail’s crowded lower miles, ending at a deep blue lake in a glacially carved cirque.The route is about 12.75 miles to the lake, which sits at the 3,780-foot elevation mark. Total elevation gain for the round-trip hike is 5,210 feet.

Permits & Pets

The site is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park. Pay $5 cash at the trailhead kiosk, or, purchase one in advance. This hike enters the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. Wilderness restrictions apply. Dogs are required to be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. However, we do not recommend taking dogs on this hike.

Trail Notes

  • From the trailhead, hike Eagle Creek Trail to Punch Bowl Falls at the 1.5-mile mark. Continue on the trail to High Bridge at the 3-mile mark. Then continue on to Tunnel Falls at the 6-mile mark.
  • From Tunnel Falls, hike about 1.5 miles along Trail 440 to a junction with the Eagle Tanner Trail (Trail 433). Here, keep left on Trail 440. In another 2.3 miles, the Indian Springs Trail (Trail 435) comes in on the right. Here, keep left on Trail 440. Continue on Trail 440 for 2.9 more miles to Wahtum Lake. Walk the loop around the lake and camp at designated sites along the shoreline.
  • For the return, retrace the route to the trailhead.
  • Please always stay on the trail and clean your boots before and after you hike. Hikers are a common vector for spreading invasive seeds.
  • On the road to the trailhead, restrooms are to the left, adjacent to a parking area.

Post-Hike Explorations

After this long hike, find a bit of post-hike satisfaction in Cascade Locks. Brewpubs, restaurants, and ice cream await your appetite. From Eagle Creek, drive 3 miles east on I-84 and take exit 44. It leads to Cascade Locks’ main street, WaNaPa Street.

Other Eagle Creek Trail Hikes from This Trailhead



Directions & Travel Tips

Eastbound I-84: Take exit 41/Eagle Creek. At the end of the ramp, turn right, and drive 0.6 mile along Eagle Creek to the parking area and trailhead at road’s end. Park only in designated spaces. If the parking area is full, turn around and park in the large lot near the restroom and fish hatchery. This will add about 1 mile (round trip) to the hike.

Westbound I-84: There is no exit, so take exit 40/Bonneville Dam; turn left to cross over I-84 and then left onto the eastbound ramp to I-84. In 1 mile, take exit 41/Eagle Creek, and follow directions above.