The Eagle Creek Trail is second only to Multnomah Falls as the most visited area in the Columbia River Gorge. The Eagle Creek campground was established in 1916 as one of Oregon’s first public recreation sites. The Eagle Creek Trail is cut right into bedrock as it heads upstream of Eagle Creek. There are several drop-offs of 20 feet or more and steel cables to help safely cross these sections.
Eagle Creek offers more waterfalls than any other trail in the Gorge. An out and back to Twister Falls is about 15 miles and covers most of the waterfalls on Eagle Creek. Since the trail gets so crowded, the best way to run Eagle Creek is to start early and complete the 23-mile loop with Tanner Butte Trail. Unfortunately, the Tanner Butte Trail and its connections are closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire of 2017 that started when a teenager was playing with fireworks on the Eagle Creek Trail. Trailkeepers of Oregon have worked hard to bring back the severely damaged trails in the Columbia River Gorge. Check the Forest Service webpage to see when the Eagle-Tanner trail reopens.
The first waterfall on Eagle Creek Trail is Metlako Falls, 1.5 miles from the start. Punchbowl Falls Overlook Trail is shortly after, which heads down to Punchbowl Falls; this is a popular hangout in the summer.
The trail continues on a level grade to Loowit Falls and High Bridge, which is precisely what the name insinuates, a steel span bridge that crosses the narrow gorge of Eagle Creek. Six miles into the run, go past several camping spots to Tunnel Falls. The aptly named waterfall has a tunnel cut right into the basalt, offering views of the tunnel from three sides, including behind it. Be prepared to get wet from the spray and water dripping through the rock.
Shortly after Tunnel Falls is Twister Falls. The trail runs right to the top of the falls. Twister Falls is the last of the significant falls located on Eagle Creek. Continue on Eagle Creek Trail through 7.5-mile camp and to the Eagle-Tanner Trail 433 junction. Turn right on the Eagle-Tanner Trail to continue the loop. Again, check the Forest Service web page to ensure this trail is open.
At 8.5 miles, the trail fords the West Fork of Eagle Creek. Expect to get wet. It may be a waist-high wade, depending on the time of year. This far into the loop has been a steady incline, but now is the highest ascent of the loop, with 2500′ over the next four miles.
This Eagle-Tanner Trail isn’t as well maintained as the more traveled trails in the Gorge even when it is open. At 13.1 miles is the junction with the Tanner Butte Trail #401 (also closed as of writing this article.) Turn right (north) at the trailhead shortly after is the .4 mile trail to the Tanner Butte Summit, which at 4478′ is the highest point in the Western Gorge. Continue on a steep descent to the Tanner Butte trailhead on Forest Road 77 at mile 21.8. Turn right on the road and head east back to the Eagle Creek trailhead.