How to Get to Eagle Creek Hike
Eagle Creek trailhead is the start of several classic Oregon hikes ~ including Punchbowl Falls, Tunnel Falls, & the hike we’re talking about here: Eagle Creek to High Bridge. It’s also where the devastating Columbia Gorge fire started in 2017, which burned many hiking trails & forest area on the Oregon side. I’m writing this article on how to get to Eagle Creek hike, both to encourage hikers to get back out there, as this & many other Gorge trails have thankfully re-opened.
**Author’s Note: Article updated as of December 2022.
With Eagle Creek, you’ve got all the elements of a classic Oregon hike: waterfalls, towering rock cliffs, swimming holes, & of course, the lush forest Oregon is known for. And the great thing about Eagle Creek (for avid hikers), is that it keeps going, & going, & going….all the way to the Pacific Crest Trail! Which means: your hiking options here are many.
Keep in mind: there are narrow ledges, steep drop-offs, & a few places where you need to use cables on the Eagle Creek hike ~ so factor that in before bringing young children or dogs on this hike. I left my dog, Dylan, home the first time I hiked here ~ & brought him the second time; he did just fine.
Map of Eagle Creek Hike
Eagle Creek Trail Head
Directions to Eagle Creek
Directions from Downtown Portland
Distance from Portland: 41 miles
- Take I-84 East for 39 miles
- Take Exit 41 towards Fish Hatchery
- In 0.3 miles, Turn left on NE Eagle Creek Loop
- In 200 feet, Arrive at Eagle Creek Trailhead
***Special Note: Be careful not to leave any valuables visible or in glove department of your car. Break-ins have been reported here, as many hikers continue onto the Pacific Crest Trail.
Eagle Creek to High Bridge Info
- Starting Point: Eagle Creek Trailhead
- Total Hike Distance: 6.4 miles round-trip
- Hike Type: Out-and-back
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate incline, watch for narrow ledges
- Time: 3-4 hours
- Elevation Gain: 850 feet
- Pet-friendly: Yes, with caution on ledges
- Kid-friendly: Use caution (narrow ledges, use of cables, & steep drop-offs)
- Good for Trail-Running: Yes, past Punchbowl Falls
- Crowded: Yes, especially in summer & weekends
- Best Time to Go: Weekdays, year-round
- All Seasons? Yes
Eagle Creek Hike Info & Photos
It won’t take long to reach Punchbowl Falls: it’s just a couple miles from the parking lot. And many people stop there. But if you’re up for more of a challenge, keep going past Punchbowl, & head up to High Bridge. During the summer months, Punchbowl will likely be VERY crowded with families & big groups taking a dip in the cool water.
After Punchbowl, the crowds thin out a bit, & you’ll be able to get a fantastic view of the suspension bridge that sits high above Eagle Creek after about another mile of hiking.
Where to Stay & Drink
If you’re headed back to Portland after Eagle Creek, chances are you’ll be hungry. My favorite place to stop is McMenamins Edgefield, in Troutdale. It’ll be about halfway home from Eagle Creek, making it a perfect place to stop. The grounds are extensive & include several bars, restaurants, hotel, & outdoor concert venue. This place is amazing!!
Other Hikes Nearby
The most obvious choice here is Punchbowl Falls. If you want more of a challenge & less people, go past High Bridge to Tunnel Falls (12 miles round-trip). For a complete weekend adventure, hike 13 miles from Eagle Creek’s trail head & you’ll reach the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail. Yes, the one in “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed. From there, choose your own adventure ~ hike up towards Canada, or down towards Mexico!
The Columbia River Gorge is FULL of amazing hikes ~ for a more complete list & detailed map of the area, click here.
If you stop off at Punchbowl Falls on the Eagle Creek hike, especially during summer ~ you’ll need a cute bathing suit & a waterproof camera! Other than that, typical trail runners or running shoes will be fine.