Eagle Creek Trailhead & Trail (#440)

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Near Hood River, Oregon

Eagle Creek Trailhead & Trail (#440) does not offer reservations through Recreation.gov. Please take a look at the area details below for more information about visiting this location. Enjoy your visit!

Overview

A major wildfire started about a mile up this trail in 2017, so crews are still repairing parts of the trail and monitoring the landscape for post-fire hazards such as landslides before setting a date for reopening.

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. 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 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. 

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) *Note this description has not been updated since Eagle Creek Fire and is not currently accurate.