Looking for a thrilling hiking adventure just outside of Portland? The Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls in Oregon is an exceptional trail that leads you through breathtaking landscapes along narrow trails cutout of the cliff side and one of the most impressive waterfalls I’ve ever experienced. In this post we’ll cover all the necessary information about this hike, from the trail details and highlights to safety tips and logistics. So, if discovering cascading waterfalls, forested basalt cliffs, and diverse wildlife excites you, get ready for an adventure!
- The Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls is a scenic hike in Oregon known for its stunning waterfalls, trail carved into the canyon walls 100’s of feet above the canyon floor guided by cables, and hidden swimming holes.
- The trail measures about 12 miles to the Tunnel Falls, with longer options available for those seeking a more adventurous journey.
- Highlights of the hike include the mesmerizing Tunnel Falls, punch bowl falls, basalt cliffs, dense Pacific Northwest forests, and abundant wildlife and flora along the trail.
- Important logistics and safety tips include obtaining permits, following regulations, checking trail conditions before heading out, parking considerations, camping options near the trailhead,
Eagle Creek Trail To Tunnel Falls Oregon
Nestled just 45 minutes outside of bustling Portland, Oregon, lies an adventure waiting to happen – the Tunnel Falls trail. This remarkable trek offers an unforgettable journey through lush canyons, alongside heart-pounding cliffside paths, and culminates with a unique and stunning waterfall experience.
Eagle Creek Trail Permits and Parking
Before embarking on your journey, it’s essential to secure a permit to park at the Eagle Creek Trailhead. Permits can be purchased in advance or at the trailhead, but be aware that the main parking area tends to fill up quickly. To ensure a seamless start to your hike, arrive early, especially on hot days when the exposed sections of the trail can become sweltering.
To hike the Eagle Creek Trail, there are a few permits and regulations to keep in mind:
- A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at the Eagle Creek Trailhead.
- The trail is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, so it’s important to follow their rules and guidelines.
The Trail: A Cliffside Adventure
The Eagle Creek Trail leading to Tunnel Falls is an approximately 12-mile round trip with an elevation gain of roughly 1,800 feet. But the distance and effort are well worth it. As you make your way along this trail, you’ll find yourself traversing paths carved into the cliffside, often with 100+ foot drops mere steps away. If heights make you uneasy, take comfort in the cables provided along certain sections for added safety.
Natural Wonders Along the Way
As you follow the trail, you’ll be treated to a series of natural wonders. One highlight is “the punch bowl,” a popular swimming spot along the route. This is where the trail begins to thin out as fewer hikers venture beyond. You’ll cross five or six high bridges that offer breathtaking views of the gorge below. Waterfalls cascade around you, and the canyon’s beauty unfolds with each step.
Tunnel Falls and Other Notable Attractions
Around mile 6, you’ll arrive at the pièce de résistance – Tunnel Falls. As the trail meanders behind this spectacular waterfall, you’ll understand the source of its name. The sensation of walking through the tunnel behind the falls is unlike any other and is sure to be a highlight of your journey.
Tunnel Falls is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Eagle Creek Trail. Standing at an impressive 172 feet tall, this breathtaking waterfall boasts a unique feature – a tunnel carved right behind it.
As you approach Tunnel Falls along the trail, you’ll be captivated by its sheer beauty and power. The cascading water creates a mesmerizing spectacle, making it a must-see attraction for hikers and nature enthusiasts alike.
But Tunnel Falls isn’t the only highlight of this hike. Along the way, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of basalt cliffs and dense Pacific Northwest forests. The Eagle Creek canyon offers unparalleled natural beauty that will leave you in awe with every step.
And keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of wildlife and vibrant flora that call this pristine wilderness their home.
A Unique Experience
For a truly unique experience, we recommend continuing along the trail beyond Tunnel Falls and circling back. This part of the hike takes you along a cliffside path with the falls gradually revealing themselves as you progress. It’s a mesmerizing sight and a great way to capture some unforgettable photos.
Eagle Creek Trail features (waterfalls, scenic views, etc.)
Dramatic waterfalls, a raging mountain stream, dense Pacific Northwest forest and towering basalt cliffs are just some of the scenic views hikers can expect on the Eagle Creek Trail.
The trail takes you through a forested area along basalt cliffs that tower over Eagle Creek, offering stunning views of the creek’s slot canyon. But what sets this trail apart is the mesmerizing Tunnel falls – an impressive waterfall where you literally hike through a tunnel behind it.
Standing tall at 172-feet, Tunnel Falls is one of Oregon’s premier hiking destinations. With its near sheer plunge from 160 feet above ground level to form a picturesque sight like no other, it certainly elevates this already remarkable trail into something truly extraordinary.
Eagle Creek Trail – Difficulty level
The difficulty level of the Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls strides comfortably in the moderate range. It challenges hikers with some experience, yet doesn’t demand an expert skill set.
The trail’s gradual incline over its 12-mile distance makes it a manageable hike for many outdoor enthusiasts.
Contrary to what you might expect from a lengthy excursion, this trail leaves hikers feeling energetic at the end of their journey. This can be attributed to its smooth transitions and steady pace, as opposed to sudden steep climbs or rocky paths.
Therefore, while offering enough exercise for an adventurous day out in nature, it maintains a balance that keeps exhaustion at bay.
Logistics and Planning
Parking and transportation options can be found near the trailhead, and there are camping facilities available for those wishing to spend more time exploring the area.
Weather conditions on the Eagle Creek Trail can vary significantly throughout the year, so it’s essential to plan accordingly. Keep in mind that climate fluctuations can impact your hiking experience.
It is advisable to check trail conditions and closures before heading out due to potential impacts from wildfires or other natural occurrences. Fire risks are also a factor, especially during dry seasons when the risk of wildfires is higher.
In addition, be aware of weather-related impacts such as heavy rainstorms that can cause flash floods along the trail. Another important consideration is trail congestion during peak season when crowds flock to this popular hike.
Parking and Transportation Options
There are various parking and transportation options available for those planning to hike the Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls in Oregon. Here are some important details to consider:
- $5 parking fee at the Eagle Creek Trailhead.
- The trailhead is located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
- There are parking facilities available near the trailhead, but it can get crowded during peak season, so it’s best to arrive early.
- If you prefer not to drive, you can also take public transportation to reach the trailhead. Buses and shuttles service the area, providing convenient access for hikers.
- Another option is carpooling with fellow hikers or using rideshare services to share transportation costs and reduce environmental impact.
- It’s important to note that parking regulations are strictly enforced, so make sure to follow any posted signs and instructions.
Camping and Lodging Nearby
Camping and lodging options near the Eagle Creek Trail:
- The central Columbia River Gorge offers the Eagle Creek campground for camping.
- Overnight camping is allowed only on the Eagle Creek Trail above the High Bridge.
- Backcountry campsites along the trail provide opportunities for overnight stays.
- The old – growth forest surrounding the trail is known for its camping possibilities.
- HikingGuy.com has a guide with insider tips on camping and lodging near the Eagle Creek Trail.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Stay safe on the Eagle Creek Trail by being aware of falling hazards and taking necessary precautions.
Falling Hazards and Safety Precautions
The Eagle Creek Trail in Oregon poses falling hazards, particularly for dogs or small children, due to steep cliffs along many sections of the trail. It is important to take the following safety precautions:
- Stay on the designated trail at all times.
- Keep a close eye on children and pets, especially near cliff edges.
- Be cautious when navigating steep sections of the trail and use handrails if available.
- Watch your step and be mindful of loose rocks or slippery surfaces.
- Avoid hiking during or immediately after heavy rainfall, as it can make the trail more hazardous.
- Take extra care when hiking in burned areas, as falling trees and landslides are possible.
- Familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace principles and pack out all trash and waste.
- Stay updated on trail conditions and closures by checking official websites or contacting park authorities before your hike.
- Carry a map, compass or GPS device to ensure you stay on the right path.
- Make sure to have emergency contact numbers on hand in case of any accidents or injuries.
Conclusion – Eagle Creek Trail To Tunnel Falls Oregon
Our adventure on the Tunnel Falls trail was nothing short of amazing, and we wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone in the Portland, Oregon area. From the thrill of cliffside paths to the serenity of hidden swimming spots, and the wonder of Tunnel Falls itself, this hike offers a diverse array of experiences that will leave you with cherished memories of Oregon’s natural beauty. So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for an adventure you won’t soon forget.