Tunnel Falls is frequently the reason for traveling the Eagle Falls Trail. It is a long haul to get there at 5.8 miles (9 km) but worth every step. The falls were named for the obvious man made tunnel which is cut behind the waterfall itself.
At 130 feet (39 meters) this waterfall is quite tall and with the added benefit of being able to walk behind it in a tunnel it is truly one of a kind. The tunnel was blasted by the Civilian Conservation Corps when the trail was built to avoid having to build a long and tall bridge.
The first time I went down this trail I was meaning to go to Tunnel Falls and I’m glad I didn’t at that time because it would have been completely dark by the time I had gotten back. On my second trip I opted to camp. When you are considering this trail give yourself plenty of time.
Twister falls occurs a short distance up-stream from Grand Union Falls on the opposing fork to that of Tunnel Falls. This waterfall is much more difficult to view but perhaps that is what makes it so interesting. At 140 feet (42 meters) it is even taller than Tunnel Falls.
The way the falls gouges its way down a crack in the canyon wall it is unable to view the full height of the falls from the trail. A trip to the bottom of the canyon is possible but would take a bit of determination.
For the most part, Twister falls is known for its activity at the top anyway. The river breaks into two channels and then as they fall over the precipice they cross and then become one large jumbled stream.
The form of this waterfall is quite unique and for those that make it as far as Tunnel Falls, this waterfall is only another quarter mile making it about 6.25 miles (10 km) from the trailhead.
Just when you think that you have seen everything that the Eagle Falls trail has to offer you are wrong time and time again. At 6.5 miles (10.5 km) from the trailhead lies the curiously named Sevenmile Falls.
At just 40 feet (12 meters) it is not very surprising to find that most people do not make it that far. This is the 7th major waterfall along the course of Eagle Creek and marks what is presumed to be the last of them as well. The amphitheatre that the falls have created are quite impressive especially when you consider that similar amphitheatres are created in so many other locations along this very violent river.
Tenas Falls are not really a stopping point as much as it is a mile marker or landmark. As you travel down the Eagle Falls Trail many of the landmarks help you to know just how far you have gone and how much further you must go.
Tenas Falls occurs at 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the trailhead but is only about 25 feet (7 meters) in total. Many times it can be said that a waterfall is dwarfed by the company of waterfalls surrounding it and that it is a shame since the smaller waterfall would be a great destination had it not been so close to so many others.
In this case I believe that this fall is not worthy of that designation. If this had not fell on the Eagle Falls trail I believe it would not only not be its own destination but would likely not even be named.
Wy’east Falls occurs at about 5 miles (8km) from the Eagle River Trailhead. Unfortunately, the access to the falls is less than ideal. From the trail you will encounter a crossing of its stream and a very inviting view through the trees.
I bit and took the trail up the stream which was not very well defined. After making my way to the falls I found that the water was flowing at a volume which was very large and made any photo aspirations a complete impossibility.
Having said that, this waterfall was very impressive; at 140 feet (42 meters) it is certainly not the tallest along the trail but once again this represents a type of waterfall that is unique. Most of the falls occur along the Eagle River. This is a tributary and therefore bears a smaller volume.
Grand Union Falls is much more interesting than my pictures would lead you to believe. I was in a hurry to get to the bigger fish that lie up-stream. Grand Union Falls is about 45 feet (13 meters) but carries a large volume and on the day of my visit more than normal. It was also raining quite heavily.
The falls are called Grand Union Falls because this is the location where the east and west forks of Eagle Creek occurs. The ‘Grand’ in grand union is likely due to the fact that just a few hundred feet upstream from this fall on BOTH forks are world class waterfalls which are absolutely worth the ~ 6 mile (9.6 km) one way hike to them.
Tunnel Falls and Twister falls are likely the only reason why you would be this far on the trail and they are just a short distance further.
Possibly the most popular trail system in the Columbia River Gorge is the Eagle Creek Trail System. a dozen waterfalls in 6 miles (9.6 km) one way. The first and possibly the most spectacular is Metlako Falls. Named after for the legendary Indian goddess of salmon which makes the name of this waterfall one of the most fitting i've heard of since it represents the natural boundary for salmon migration up Eagle Creek.
This waterfall is famous for many reasons. At 101 feet (30 m) it stands as one of the tallest waterfalls that a Kayaker has dropped over. This feat is much more amazing when you actually visit the falls. As for the casual observer it is also quite beautiful.
The viewpoints are hard to come by and the best of which is located across the canyon on a steep cliff side which is marked from the trail. This viewpoint is located 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from the trail head.
From Bonneville go east on I-84 to Exit 41.
Skoonichuk Falls was where i decided i was running out of light. It is located at 3.7 miles (5.9 km) from the trail head just after crossing high bridge which is an interesting sight by itself. High bridge is only about 30 feet (9 m) across but beneath the bridge is a fall between sheer cliffs of about 150 feet (45 m).
Skoonichuk Falls has a strange name but is quite interesting and should a viewpoint be found i'm sure i would have a much greater opinion of it. The best estimate I've seen is that the falls are about 70 feet (21 m) but that figure could be way off.
The hillside adjacent to the trail has no beaten path which leads down to the rocky beach at the base of the falls but I'm sure it could be reached. After two visits I've still never been to the base which is a shame since I really find this waterfall to have an interesting form. Maybe next time.
The second waterfall encountered along the Eagle Falls trail is Lower Punch Bowl Falls. It is a relatively short waterfalls especially in comparison with its downstream companion Metlako Falls. It is however quite interesting.
The falls are about 12 feet (3.6 m) but fall over a fairly wide crest. The angle of the falls is a little awkward for the viewpoints and only side views are available without a lot of effort. This gorge is very scenic and i'm sure that most people don't really pay much attention to this waterfall since the main attraction here is Punchbowl falls just a short walk up the riverbank.
From the Eagle Creek Trail head Lower Punchbowl falls is about 2 miles (3.2 km)
This is the most popular destination along the Eagle Creek Trail System. Only 35 feet (10.6 m) tall it has gained its fame by its beauty, as captured by thousands of photographers, this waterfall is especially scenic.
The area near the falls is very busy from all the visitors coming to see it but the falls themselves are secluded enough that one must wade out into the river slightly to get a good view of these falls. The additional attraction of a fallen tree that slightly obstructs your view is possibly what has made this such a destination.
Just upstream from Lower Punchbowl Falls. Around 2 miles (3.2 km) from the trail head.
Loowit Falls is located 3.2 miles (5.1 km) from the trail head. The views of this waterfall are cross canyon so a direct view can be had. This is the first of that variety on the trail system. I found this 90 foot (27 m) fall to be quite interesting. It is a long veil into a pool followed by another shorter veil.
The sign at the trail head names not this veil as Loowit Falls but the falls along Eagle Creek just beneath them as Loowit Falls either Way i find this to be a more fitting example. Another site named the lower part High Bridge Falls.
The name itself is of some interest as well. Loowit was the Native American name for Mt. St. Hellens. I do not know why that name was given to this fall but it is always nice to see the Native American language being used in naming.
As I have said after it seems you think you know everything that there is to see along the Eagle Falls Trail you are wrong. These are a few pictures of waterfalls that I could find no name for. It seems like everywhere you look there is another waterfall.
Certainly the more impressive of which are better documented but this should go to show that this trail has possibly the greatest density of waterfalls of any trail around. Most of them are quite impressive as well.
Munra Falls is a very pretty waterfall. It suffers from one main logistical problem however. It lies only feet from a foot bridge and from it's base travels only a few feet into the Tanner Creek. These two problems make the falls very difficult to appreciate and also difficult to get a good view of.
At only 35 feet (10 m) it is no surprise that these falls get very little attention and especially since the are on the same trail system as the brilliant Wahclella Falls. They are however a very pleasant stop along the way.
From the Trail Head off exit 40 on I-84 hike .2 miles (.3 km) to a bridge over the creek.
Of all the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge i believe this to be the most scenic in the beauty of the canyon it has carved. At approximately 120 feet (36 m) it is not extremely tall by Columbia Gorge standards but the area beneath this fall is absolutely spectacular. Their is also a seasonal stream called East Fork Falls which feeds the falls from the top of the gorge.
Tanner Creek has carved a canyon which has left several large boulders which have been covered in moss. When hiking to the falls a long footbridge (~60 feet or 18 m) crosses Tanner Creek and has two large beams which support it. I found that interesting but the trail ahead is much more interesting.
After having been in a dark forest for most of the hike you become exposed after the bridge and the scene unfolding before you looks like the home of elves and all kinds of fairy tale characters. I could easily spend a few hours at this location just marveling at the beauty of this gorge.
After Passing Munra Falls proceed another .3 miles (.5 km) to the base of the falls.
Operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, only "self guided" tours of this facility are available. That is, you walk around the areas of the hatchery that are open to the public and read the signs. These signs talk of the situation regarding Columbia River salmon and the supplementing of wild salmon runs with hatchery fish. It is possible to view the multiple stages of the development of the salmon smolt in the tanks behind the hatchery.
The web site given below is for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Several documents regarding the hatchery are available there. Search for "Cascade Fish Hatchery" using the site tools.
The fish hatchery is at the Eagle Creek trailhead, which is only accessible from the eastbound side of Interstate 84. Use exit 41 and go to the end of the exit ramp. The fish hatchery is the building directly in front of you at the end of the exit ramp.
The exit ramp and bridge over Eagle Creek is made of very old stone work from the historic Columbia River highway.
The Historic Columbia River Highway Trail also provides access to the facility from Cascade Locks (a few miles east) or Bonneville Dam (about 1 mile west).
At the south end of the building (right from the freeway ramp) you will see a small sign indicating what hours the hatchery allows people to wander in and see what is going on in the fish tanks. Currently, that is 7:30am to 4:30pm.