The popularity of Eagle Creek has much to do with the wow-factor it packs into a relatively short distance. Whether you decide to end your hike at Punch Bowl Falls, continue to High Bridge or make it a slog by going all the way to Tunnel Falls, the sound of Eagle Creek coursing down toward the Columbia is a constant companion. Equally stirring are the sections of trail that are little more than ledges, prompting the Forest Service to bolt handrails into the rock as an extra precaution.
ROUTE: At Mile 1.4 or so, you can take a short trail to view Metlako Falls from a distance, but the real treat awaits a half-mile further, where a spur leads right to Punch Bowl Falls. Covered in smooth river rocks, the creek bank makes a fine place for lunch. Depending on the water’s height, you can wade up the creek to the base of Punch Bowl itself, where a single downed tree forms a hypotenuse between the high canyon wall and the creek (a2 + b2 = natural wonder). Further on the main trail are Loowit Falls, which spills on the opposite cliff like a stream of salt, and High Bridge, which (as the name implies) connects two high cliffs. Those who can should make the push to Tunnel Falls at about Mile 6, where you can walk behind the veil through a dripping cavelike overhang—the ultimate waterfall rush.
DIRECTIONS: From eastbound I-84, take Exit 41. At the intersection, turn right and park in the Eagle Creek Campground lot on the left. Walk east up the road about ¼ mile to the trailhead (there is some parking here as well). Recreation pass required, or day passes can be purchased at the lot for $5.