Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Eagle Creek Trail - Green and Wet

I hope you like the color green.  You're about to see lots of it.

Mysterious mossy forest

After leaving Tom McCall Point, I headed west into the Columbia River Gorge to visit it's most beautiful and popular trail - Eagle Creek.

Green riot

One of the very few Gorge trails that doesn't rise steeply from the Columbia River, this path stays relatively flat, following lovely Eagle Creek.  It's a world of thick mossy trees, huge green ferns, churning rapids, and lacy waterfalls.

Narrow path blasted into the cliff

The sky started clouding over as I hiked down Tom McCall Point, so I knew it was only a matter of time before the wet stuff began to fall.  Before heading up the Eagle Creek trail, I prepared for the worst by packing a rain jacket, and making sure my camera and gear were secure in several plastic bags.

Foggy cliffs

Right out of the trailhead, hikers are hit with an immediate wall of green.  New leaves burst from every branch.  Thick moss drapes from several trees, giving the forest a fairy tale feel.  Huge ferns sprout from canyon walls.

Wildflowers line the path's edge

Constructing a trail through this narrow canyon was an engineering challenge.  In certain areas, the walking surface is a narrow shelf, created by blasting into the steep cliffs.  Thick wire cables anchored into the rock provide hand holds for nervous hikers.

Metlako Falls

Even on this overcast, rainy weekday, foot traffic was heavy.  Approaching the first narrow rock ledge section, I was met with a conga-line of people coming from the other direction.  Since there's not much room for passing, I patiently waited at the end for everyone to pass.  One annoying man stood in the middle of the trail for several minutes taking copious photos, before finally moving on.

Mossy tree

But my patience paid off, and once all the hikers passed, I had the entire stretch of this narrow trail all to myself.  Although perilous, this segment boasted some great views of the upper forested canyon walls and Eagle Creek, far, far below.

Sturdy cables for chicken hikers

In about a mile and a half a side trail led to a viewpoint of 100-foot high Metlako Falls.  I was pleased to see someone had trimmed back the thick vegetation here, allowing for a much clearer view.  And what a pretty cascade it was!  Hidden back in a side canyon, it roars out of the cliffside.  With the recent rain, it was flowing full.  Metlako's silky white stream made a perfect photo subject.  The overcast day helped too.


From Metlako Falls, I continued onward, stopping to photograph some lovely purple larkspur blooms popping up from the downhill side of the trail.

Punchbowl Falls

Shortly thereafter, I passed by a famous waterfall on this trail - Punchbowl Falls.  There's a classic view of this cascade from its base that ends up on many calendars.  But today, I wasn't up to hiking the steep trail down and wading in the creek to get that shot.  (Check out this post if you'd like to see it)  Instead, I tried getting a few images of the falls looking down into it's mossy grotto.  Sadly, lots of bushes and small trees are beginning to block this view.  (Is it legal to trim foliage in a national scenic area?)

Sturdy bridge above a deep canyon

From Punchbowl Falls, I continued my journey, ambling along muddy trails, crossing one sturdy bridge that spanned a very deep canyon.

Drippy cliff face

Although rain seemed imminent the entire time, for the first two hours raindrops stayed in the clouds.  But around mile 3, my luck ran out.  It started as a light sprinkle, but soon large, wet drops were splattering on my head.

Puddles on the trail

After attempting a few final shots of a drippy cliff face and gorgeous creek below, I cried uncle and packed my camera away.  Realizing I'd already hiked 4 miles at Tom McCall Point earlier this morning, and would cover another 6 if I turned around now, the decision to head back was an easy one.  Besides, both feet were hurting, and my stomach was ready for some beer and grub.

Wonderful creek view

I hiked the three mile return trip in alternating downpours.  Although I'd donned a rainjacket and covered my valuables in plastic, it still was a soggy miserable trip.  Today's cumulative 10 miles was the longest hike I'd done since bunion surgery.  And my foot was feeling it.  Never was I so glad to see my car!

Although I only processed a couple photos that day, now, weeks later, looking over all the images from this hike made me realize I'd gotten a lot of nice shots.  These photos remind me what a truly gorgeous and special trail Eagle Creek is.  And the inclement weather made for way better photographic conditions.  I'm hoping to return on another soggy, spring day.

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Friday Greens.


  1. That's an amazing photo of the falls. You find such great places to hike.

  2. 10 miles and some in the rain, you are amazing. And I thank you for taking me along the easy dry way thru your camera lens. I love the moss. Beautiful shots of the waterfalls and all the greenery. Enjoy your weekend!

  3. Linda, I absolutely love all the hues of green and the falls! Gorgeous series! :)

  4. Linda I absolutely love love love the depth of colors you got here. this really looks like an incredible trail and one that I would love to do. You live in the most amazing place with views unlimited. How fascinating is all of the moss on the trees, and i guess speaks to the large amount of rainfall every year. Great shots

  5. More absolutely gorgeous images Linda.

  6. Linda,

    Your photos are beautiful! What a gorgeous area!

  7. This was an enjoyable walk.
    The murky conditions did the photographs a favour. I tend to struggle with so much green but these are fine.

  8. Healing and welcome!

    ALOHA from Honolulu,


  9. Thanks for sharing these great shots! Sorry you got rained out.

  10. Wow what a gorgeous trail. Waiting for a clear pic of the waterfall was worth the shot

  11. I happen to be one of those that love green and I loved your photos! However, I am also one of those who would be clinging to those cables for dear life--that is if I even made it that far:)
    Blessings, Aimee

  12. Eagle Creek is so awesome. Thanks for the pretty photos as a reminder. We hiked 25k there last June during the AVA Columbia Gorge Hiking weekend. It's too bad you missed that one. The weather was perfect.

  13. These photos are better than nice. They are excellent. Keep them coming.

  14. Wow, fantastic post. Gorgeous captures.. loved the mist!

  15. Spectacular, Linda. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  16. It's a land of waterfalls you live in! Gorgeous pictures, and a neat trail!

  17. That's a trail that has long been on my list, but it seems we are never staying near enough and the long drive and potential crowds drops it down on the list. Thanks for taking me there!

  18. That looks like an amazing trail - beautiful photos!


  19. Wow!
    Fantastic !

    Greetings - Monika

  20. Very cool hike, I would have turned around at the hand holds so it was great to see what was beyond:)

  21. Absolutely beautiful. I just love the richness of the earth...the moisture in the plants, the deep green of the leaves.

  22. What an amazing day out this was. The magnificent wildflowers followed by this spectacular trail and waterfalls. So long as you don't get too wet, I think the rain adds to ones sense of achievement.

  23. Great set of photographs and my kind of trail. I'm certainly learning a lot about Oregon outdoors. Best place to be in wet weather with the waterfalls yet sheltered conditions.

  24. What a gorgeous area. The images are so wonderfully green...and magical!

  25. Wonderful! I love the waterfalls and the mossy trees.

  26. What a beautiful area - everything is so green and rich.

  27. Wow- the views are stunningly green! Just from seeing the pics I imagine it felt like a jungle paradise. I probably would have had to work up courage on those tiny trails with steep drop offs, though!

  28. Wow wow wow! Stunning shots.

  29. glad it was your long trip not mine cuz I would definitely be worn out completely! Lovely photos. The waterfalls are lovely. I popped over to see the post from a few years ago. Nice and your companion dog! Have a good week!

  30. I totally believe you took many good shots that day. The ones you've shown us are wonderful! I LOVE what you show of beautiful Oregon.

  31. Hi! It looks very hard hiking for you. But you took many beautiful photos. I like the Metlako Falls and Larkspur photos very much. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Fantastic shots! Would love to hike there myself...
    Thank you for participating in the Friday Greens meme.

  33. A grand hike with so many views of refreshing greens. Love the view of the cliff face and the views of the waterfall midst the greens.


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