Tunnel Falls, Eagle Creek Trailhead, Portland - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Tunnel Falls - 11.8 miles

Eagle Creek Trailhead

Tunnel Falls along the Eagle Creek Trail

Tunnel Falls along the Eagle Creek Trail

Round-Trip Length: 11.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 128' - 1,257' (1,257' max elevation at tunnel behind falls)
Elevation Change: +1,129' net elevation gain (+1,674' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Tunnel Falls - 11.8 Miles Round-Trip

Tunnel Falls is located 5.9 miles from Eagle Creek Trailhead in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. This unique waterfall plunges 165' over basalt cliffs along East Fork Eagle Creek, distinguished by the namesake tunnel which passes directly behind it.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Eagle Creek Trail rises steadily through diverse forests highlighted by scenic bridges, steep drops and several iconic waterfalls en route to Tunnel Falls. 

It continues 7.2 miles to Wahtum Lake, with multiple connections for loops and longer trips in the Hatfield Wilderness.

The Eagle Creek - Punchbowl Falls - Tunnel Falls corridor sees heavy crowds, especially on weekends. Short sections run across narrow paths etched in vertical cliffs, and may not be suitable for children or those fearful of heights. Keep pets leashed at all times. 

A $5 day-use fee or valid recreation pass is required to access the Eagle Creek Trail:

The Eagle Creek Trail heads SE and crosses the first of several cable-aided cliffs (1.0 miles : 460'). It reaches a spur for Metlako Falls (1.45 miles), a 150' fall named after the goddess of salmon.

The ECT hairpins across Sorenson Creek to the split for Lower Punchbowl Falls (1.75 miles : 504'); skip this and continue .18 miles to a good aerial view over the aptly-named bowl. The trail dips to a bridge over Tish Creek (2.0 miles : 550'), which is damaged and set for repair.

Cross the creek on an interim path to an intact bridge over a narrow, maple covered gorge (2.55 miles : 588'). The trail tip-toes another narrow, cable-aided ledge (2.9 miles) to High Bridge, set 150' over a narrow gorge (3.2 miles : 563'). Enjoy useful perspective from this airy perch in the middle of the canyon.

The trail continues up the west bank of Eagle Creek to Skoonichuck Falls (3.6 miles), the top of which is easy to reach but with a more concealed (and precariously viewed) plunge.

It crosses back to the east bank on a long bridge (3.9 miles : 792'), then closely follows the creek past a burn sign (4.35 miles) and campsite (4.58 miles : 885') to the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Boundary (4.75 miles : 963'). Complete and carry the free (but required) permit for travel beyond this point.

It levels to the Eagle - Benson Trail split (5.05 miles : 980'), which breaks NE to Wy'east Falls and the PCT. The Eagle Creek Trail keeps straight, then wraps high above the canyon floor on a narrow path to Tunnel Falls (5.9 miles : 1,257'). 

Tread carefully as you approach and pass behind on a narrow, wet path. Use cables for safety and avoid unstable ledges. It's tempting to lean over for more of a view, but this is strongly discouraged and fatal accidents really do happen (pets included).

Round this narrow alcove to Twister Falls (6.2 miles), which swirl through wide, tiered pools before sliding through a precipitous slot along Eagle Creek.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N45 38.207 W121 55.165 — 0.0 miles : Eagle Creek Trailhead
  • N45 37.989 W121 54.733 — 0.5 miles : Fast, mild climb along creek
  • N45 37.812 W121 54 196 — 1.0 miles : Cable-assist across steep ledge
  • N45 37.624 W121 53.821 — 1.45 miles : Spur to Metlako Falls
  • N45 37.486 W121 53.751 — 1.7 miles : Split to Lower Punchbowl Falls
  • N45 37.345 W121 53.683 — 1.9 miles : Punchbowl Falls Viewing Area
  • N45 37.306 W121 53.624 — 2.0 miles : Cross bridge over Tish Creek
  • N45 36.984 W121 53.200 — 2.55 miles : Cross bridge
  • N45 36.660 W121 53.083 — 3.0 miles : Steady climb with ledges
  • N45 36.495 W121 52.946 — 3.25 miles : Cross High Bridge
  • N45 36.276 W121 52.848 — 3.6 miles : Access to waterfall
  • N45 36.012 W121 52.669 — 3.9 miles : Cross bridge back to east bank
  • N45 35.826 W121 52.331 — 4.28 miles : Burn area sign
  • N45 35.544 W121 51.990 — 4.75 miles : Mark O Hatfield Wilderness Boundary
  • N45 35.469 W121 51.774 — 4.98 miles : Eagle - Benson Trail split
  • N45 35.176 W121 51.351 — 5.5 miles : Steady, mild-moderate climb
  • N45 35.091 W121 51.167 — 5.9 miles : Tunnel behind Tunnel Falls
  • N45 34.934 W121 51.133 — 6.2 miles : Twister Falls

Worth Noting

  • Control children and pets along narrow, cable-aided ledges. Scrambling off trail to access Tunnel Falls' plunge pool is strongly discouraged.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • An overnight fee is required (see rules and regulations).
  • Group size is limited to 12 individuals or any combination of people and stock.
  • Camp in established sites whenever possible. Sites are first come, first served. Some may be closed for restoration
  • Bury human waste 6-8" deep, at least 100' from any trail or water source.
  • Campfires - Columbia River Gorge NSA: Campfires are permitted in the CRGNSA, with potential seasonal and area-specific restrictions. Up-to-date rules are posted at the trailhead and along the trail. 
  • Campfires - Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness: Campfires are not permitted June 1 - September 15 (peak season) along the Eagle Creek Trail from the wilderness boundary to the Eagle-Tanner Trail. Fires are permitted from September 16 - May 31 unless otherwise posted.

Rules and Regulations

  • A valid Recreation Pass is required to access the Eagle Creek Trailhead ($5 day use fee | overnight use requires payment for two days). Complete the form and display as directed at the trailhead board.
  • A free day and overnight permit is also required to enter the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. These forms are available at the wilderness boundary, 4.75 miles from the trailhead along the Eagle Creek Trail. Complete the form and carry with you as directed.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • Diving into the pools of Punchbowl Falls is strictly probibited. A $300 fine will be applied.

Directions to Trailhead

The Eagle Creek Trailhead is located off Exit #41 from I-84.

Eastbound (from Portland):

Take Exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right and go .5 miles to the end of the road. This road crosses a footbridge which leads to Wauna Viewpoint before narrowing into one lane. Drive slowly and anticipate oncoming traffic.

Contact Information

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
902 Wasco Ave | Suite 200
Hood River, OR 97031

Hood River Ranger District
6780 Highway 35
Parkdale, OR 97041

Mt. Hood National Forest Headquarters
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055

Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30a – 4:30p (closed 11:30 – 12:30)

Trip Reports

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