Eagle Creek is one of those hikes that is beautiful year round…even in the rain. The trail itself is pretty easy as long as you don’t mind steep drop-offs on one side and the occasional section of slippery wet rocks. The trail follows Eagle Creek up a narrow gorge and can be done as an easy day hike or a (much) longer loop. I’ve hiked as far as Tunnel Falls, but plenty hike up to Wahtum Lake and turn it into an overnighter. I would love to do this hike as a overnighter…it’s so close to Portland….and there’s only a small (a handful of miles) section where you’ll actually break a sweat. Could I convince Steve to go on a winter camping trip? As always, don’t leave anything valuable in your car, let someone know where you’ll be hiking and stay safe by packing the 10 Essentials.
Distance: ~4 miles to Punchbowl Falls roundtrip; ~8 miles to Tenas Camp roundtrip; ~13 miles to Tunnel Falls roundtrip; ~28 miles to Wahtum Lake roundtrip; 25 miles for the Eagle Creek-Tanner Butte Loop (28 miles or so for the others…depending on side trips)
Time: 2hrs. to Punchbowl rt.; 3 1/2 hrs. to Tenas Camp rt.; 5 hours to Tunnel Falls rt.; 2 days backpacking trip to Wahtum Lake, or 2-3 days to do the Eagle Creek-Tanner Butte Loop (or many of the other loops ie. Ruckle Ridge, Herman Creek, etc.)
Difficulty: Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls is relatively easy…beyond is moderate to difficult (Ruckle Ridge is more challenging)
Season: Year round to Tunnel Falls; beyond you’ll need snowshoes Nov/Dec to Apr/May and GPS or excellent route finding skills
Dog Friendly: Steep drop-offs….we took ours and plenty of people do, but if your dogs act like a furry tornado when on the trail you might want to rethink taking them
Pros: waterfalls, views of the Columbia River Gorge, clear streams and pretty little lake
Cons: BUSY trail (Eagle Creek) and isolated parking area ie. don’t leave valuables in your car
The trail from Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls gradually gains elevation as it follows the creek up the canyon. Stretches of the trail are on sheer drop-offs (in some places there is a cable to hold on to for those who need it) while other sections meander through the forest.
I definitely recommend hiking down to the Lower Punchbowl Falls viewpoint…it’s postcard perfect. I unfortunately don’t have pics because I have no idea where I put them…so you’ll just have to “google it.”
Pretty Loowit Falls is across the canyon from the trail….it has a pretty and scenic pool…if only there was a way to reach it.
Once you reach High Bridge the canyon narrows and becomes deeper and then widens out a bit before reaching Tunnel Falls. On the way to Tunnel Falls you’ll pass Tenas Camp which is approximately 4 miles from the trailhead.
On our most recent hike (from which these pics were taken) we turned around at the bridge just passed Tenas camp because we had started late and didn’t want to get caught in traffic…and it was December and we didn’t hit the trail until around one and we didn’t want to be hiking back in the dark with our black dogs.
I apologize for the lack of pics, but I can’t seem to find any of the pics from previous Eagle Creek hikes. I know they’re here somewhere….I just don’t know where, so until then this is all I have to post.
If anyone has any tips or pointers about doing Eagle Creek as a loop including Wahtum lake I would love to hear them. I would love to do a winter hike/snowshoe before we leave on our big trip.