Friday, June 7, 2013
Eagle Creek Falls Trail
Eagle Creek trail is fairly level, which is one of the reasons I like it, and for the first two miles is made up of mostly packed dirt with a loose rock here and there. Eagle Creek is actually a tributary of the Columbia River and hosts a number of waterfalls along the way as the trail runs parallel with the rushing water. I think the word creek is rather misleading because it has all the sound and speed of a serious river. The first waterfall on the way is Punchbowl Falls. The trail to Punchbowl intersects with the mail trail, but the junction is easy to miss, even with the great signage at about a foot above eye-level. From the riverbed, the falls is around a corner and to the left. Depending on the time of year, it's very easy to walk out on the rocky "beach" to get a look at the falls. However, a week after one of the rainiest Mays on record is not the time of year to do that. Let's just say I spent some time dumping water from my shoes and wringing out my socks, but it was worth it.
I often wondered why it was called Punchbowl Falls because, frankly, I've never seen a punch bowl in the shape of a waterfall. However, this time I did a little exploring after finding a non-official trail that led down to a ledge overlooking the top of the falls. From there, it was easy to see the perfectly round bowl that the water flowed into and then the name made sense. The picture below and to the right looks through the gap and into the area where the picture of the actual falls was taken. The sound of the water was so loud but at the same time relaxing. There are several campsites along the river and going to sleep while listening to the churning water is my idea of a perfect vacation.
into the rock to give anyone who might have a touch of dizziness or slippery footedness a way to reestablish their balance. But it's also at these places that the view is the best.
Tunnel Falls is right in the middle of such a section of trail. The water thunders over the cliff and down 130 feet with a force that is absolutely amazing. It's called Tunnel Falls because the narrow trail leads through a tunnel that was carved into the rock behind the falls. In the picture on the left there can be seen, with a bit of imagination, a little "Hobbit hole" to the left of the falls and about half way down. It's reassuring to have the cable here because this is often a somewhat crowded section of the trail as everyone lines up to take pictures and becomes totally oblivious to everything else.