This is a beautiful gorge hike not far from Portland. It takes you on trails that hug cliffs (hope you don't have a fear of heights) and past numerous beautiful waterfalls. I hiked this trail on a rainy weekend in the spring so water levels were high (high enough for kayakers to run the canyon beneath us). I suggest doing this hike in the spring or early summer as well to really appreciate the beautiful waterfalls.
From Portland take exit 41 off of I-84 and take a right at the end of the ramp. Drive 0.5 miles to the end of the road. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here for the day. Be careful to lock your car as there have been reports of break-ins here.
The GPS track in this guide does not extend all the way to Twister Falls because the GPS lost signal in the steep canyon walls. Be aware that this will happen with yours too but there is only one clear trail and as long as you stick by (and above the river) there is no way you'll get lost! :)
Along much of this hike you will follow a narrow path along basalt cliffs towering above a narrow canyon below holding Eagle Creek. If you are nervous with heights think twice about this trip. Thankfully, in some sketchy areas a cable has been bolted to the cliff wall to hang on to while hiking (see photo). You'll be hiking through a temperate rainforest. Expect to occasionally lose your GPS signal while deep within the canyon walls. If you are there in the spring with snowmelt or on a rainy day keep an eye out for smaller falls emptying into Eagle Creek below.
After about a mile and a half of walking and ascending up onto the steep walls of the canyon you'll come to the Metlako Falls side trail. Although we skipped it and I don't have any photos I've read in numerous places that this is definitely worth the short side trip.
This 60ft waterfall is a tributary which tumbles into a round pool below before cascading into Eagle Creek Below. Loowit Falls is named after an old Indian woman of the same name who supposedly took care of an everlasting fire on the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia before transforming into Mt. St. Helens upon dying. Again, a great photo opportunity. Be cautious on the upcoming trail as it is well over 100 feet above the river below and can be narrow. Be very careful when passing others on the trail here.
Here you will cross a high bridge just past Loowit falls and just over 3 miles into the trip. The day we were here kayakers were taking the plunge through some rapids far below us. Check out the video. Spend some time here and take some photos. Just down the trail nearing 4 miles you'll pass a campsite area called Tenas Camp. Take note of it as you'll probably want to return on this hike in the future and hang out here. :) Campfires are not permitted though.
At 4.5 miles (name of the bridge...) you'll pass over Eagle Creek again but this time you will only be about 5 feet off the water. If it's a hot day take the time here to cool down and relax a bit before contining on the the gem of the hike! You'll know when you are getting close when you pass by a section known as "the potholes" which look like smooth steps carved into the trail by an ancient waterfall.
This waterfall is what makes this hike absolutely amazing! There is a tunnel behind the 175ft falls that was dug out (with great effort) around 1910. As you pass behind it just think about how much effort it must have taken back then to do this work far into this canyon! This trail is truly one of the most beautiful and well maintained in the northwest. Check out the video below for a walk through of the falls. There is one more 200 foot waterfall ahead about a half a mile. You can turn around here or continue on... I say it's worth it to continue on! Be warned... the trail to the final falls is often called the "Vertigo Mile"... can you guess why?
This two-tiered waterfall tumbles 200 feet in total to the canyon below twisting around basalt cliffs as it does so. If you were brave enough to make it on the last section of trail congratulate yourself at the top of the falls as you have made it to the final turnaround point of the hike. Above the falls the trail flattens out a bit so you can relax here and take a break before the return hike back to the parking lot. Good job!