Eagle Creek Recreation Area

Columbia River Gorge

The beautiful, 13.2-mile Eagle Creek Trail was the gorge's most popular hike before the 2017 fire that has closed it indefinitely. There is no timeline on when it will reopen so check the website. The trail passes a dozen waterfalls as it meanders up wooded slopes and sheer rock walls through a narrow basalt canyon.

Early gorge promoters engineered this historic trail in 1910 to coincide with the opening of the Historic Columbia River Hwy.

From the trailhead it's 6 miles to Tunnel Falls, which crosses a dizzying bridge over a 150ft chasm before reaching a tunnel carved behind a waterfall. Backpack overnight at 7.5 Mile Camp to turn a tiring day hike into an easy two-day trip. Punchbowl Falls (4 miles round trip) and High Bridge (6.4 miles round trip) are turning points for shorter hikes.

The trail continues past Tunnel Falls for longer backcountry loops to viewpoints at Wahtum Lake and Benson Plateau, accessible via connections with the Pacific Crest Trail and Ruckel Creek Trail.

Parts of the trail are perilously high and lack guardrails, making them dangerous for children and dogs. These sections have metal aid ropes, but even so those with vertigo issues should be extra careful. Early-season hikers should also check online to ensure that trails are clear; storm damage is frequent.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

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