As cool weather settles into Oregon and fog hangs on the banks for the Columbia River Gorge, the Eagle Creek Trail illuminates in the fiery tones of fall. Following its colorful path – especially against the evergreen backdrop and contrasting grey sky – I savored and soaked in the mists of the new hiking season.
This recreation area featuring several routes of various lengths is a popular hiking spot for locals all summer long. However, once the crowds hunker down inside for Oregon’s rainy season, the true beauty of this trail unwraps.
With springs of water showering down, the trail follows the rugged cliff banks of Eagle Creek past several beautiful waterfalls. Perfect for all ages and abilities (unless you’re afraid of heights), this trail remains relatively flat as it weaves along the cascading river.
The first few miles of the trail lead hikers past Metlako Falls, Punchbowl Falls and Loowit Falls to High Bridge. Crossing the deep cut Gorge, the bridge serves up views of the sheer, carving power of water.
With leaves of crimson and yellow lining the path through the lush rainforest, six miles into the hike, the trail reaches Tunnel Falls. About midway up the span of the waterfall, a passageway is carved behind the tumbling water. Created in 1910, the tunnel transports hikers along the amphitheater of cliffs for more spectacular view of this amazing water.
To complete the hike to Tunnel Falls (with time for photography stops) give yourself at least 2.5-3 hours each way. If you do go in the fall or winter, be prepared with a good rain coat and backpack cover because even if it is not raining from the sky, the cliffs spray down plenty of water to get you equally as wet.
Follow I-84 for 45 minutes east from Portland to exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right on Eagle Creek Lane. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road to park at the trail head.
Looking out for ships nearing the coast of Oregon from 1881 – 1957, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse perches delicately in the Pacific on its ocean pedestal. For the best vantage point of this lighthouse, also known as Terrible Tilly, hike the 2.7-mile Clatsop Loop trail in Ecola State Park starting at the Indian Beach parking lot.
What is your favorite lighthouse?
Located just a few miles off of highway 26 near Seaside, Oregon this spectacular hike takes you high into the coastal range – 3,283 feet to be exact for views of the ocean, mountains, Columbia River and surrounding forests. A 5.5 mile round trip hike, the walk up Saddle Mountain is steep at times with grated fencing underfoot to help retain the trail and your footing, but the views just get better and better as you climb.This is a great half-day hike, especially if the coast Gods grace you with a clear sky.
Along for the ride, my nephew came with us on his first hike ever! He didn’t make it quiet to the top with his parents, but for a 13 month old, he is a tough kiddo.
Escape the sand or city with your family to walk this trail together!
Here are more photos from the hike:
View from half way up!
Me standing on the edge of one of the trails.
Last section of the hike and by far the steepest!