Hiking Oregon – Eagle Creek Trail

There’s so much to be said for the Columbia River Gorge. And yet, I’ve seen so little of it.  Thankfully, this time I was given a chance to follow a friend to one of his preferred hikes, the Eagle Creek Trail in Bonneville, Oregon.

We were off to a slow start this day. And by the time we arrived at the trailhead there were easily a 100 cars already parked in front of us.

But even with all the traffic, it doesn’t take long on the trail for you to forget about it all.

This was one of the first nice days in early Spring, and the clouds burned off just enough to give us some sunshine.

A better glimpse of how the edge of the trial looks.

And the beautiful model is my hiking buddy. It seems every time he goes for a macro shot of moss, I end up taking a photo of him in the shot for comparison.

Mossy trees and grassy cliff edges.

Two miles up the hike, we took the quick side trail down to the creek.

There is plenty of room along the bank to take a break and have a snack. It seemed a few people were using this as their casual turnaround point.

Once at the river’s edge, head upstream and you will notice a small path of stones leading out into the creek. If you can trust your balance, then you can get a fantastic view of the Punchbowl Falls.

You might notice this is the same falls that I used for the cover photo.

After our shots, we headed back to the main trail and stopped at the lookout point for Punchbowl falls.

For a creek, there sure is a lot of water flowing though it.

Making our way onward. It’s hard not to stop every other step and try to capture the natural beauty around you.

One of the things you will see a lot of are falls. Here’s the best photo I could get of Loowit Falls. The falls are on the opposite side of the trail and easily shrouded in darkness if you miss the right time for early lighting.

Roughly three and a half miles up the trail (depending on how far you had to park from the trailhead) is what’s called the Vertical Mile. In the shot above you can see the trail’s edge carved into the rockface…120 feet above the creek.

Looking back at Loowit Falls from the Vertical Mile.

The “High Bridge”, aptly named, crosses over the creek giving you a wonderful sense of vertigo. I shot this phone video in an attempt to better capture the experience.

Roughly seven miles up the trail you can catch a glimpse of Wy’East Falls. You will need to crawl through the undergrowth and scramble up a couple slippery boulders, but the view is definitely worth it.

From the main trail the falls don’t look that impressive. But once you get close, you get a better understanding of the amount of water blasting off the mountain’s edge. Here’s a shot of the side trail that leads under the falls.

And once under the falls, you have a good chance of seeing some decent rainbows with all the mist in the air.

Sadly, this was where we decided to turn around. A few more miles up the trail and we would have made it to Tunnel Falls, but we were really looking for a cross over trail we never found. And with all the extra time we took trying to find it, we had to call it a day and head back.

Including the parking distance, and the extra hiking back and forth looking for the side trail, I’d say we covered close to 16 miles. I was a bit sore from being out of shape, but at the end of the day, it was completely worth it. I loved it so much that I’ve decided, if a friend stops into town and we only have time for one trail before they leave, this is going to be the one I take them on.

Looking for a more detailed guide on the hike itself?
Check out the complete writeup over at Portland Hikers Field Guide.


  • Chris says:

    Very nice! How long did it take you to tackle the 16 miles?

    • nick says:

      Thanks Chris! I’d say it took roughly eight hours to hike it. But that includes all the stopping for photos and whatnot.

  • gbotner says:

    Love the cover shot. Was not surprise that the one other photo that struck my fancy was the same fall – the one looking off the rocks back to the falls.

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