From Portland, take Interstate 84 to Eagle Creek exit 41, turn right and keep right along the creek for a mile to the road's end. Because the Eagle Creek exit is only accessible from the west, travelers from Hood River have to take Bonneville Dam exit 40 and double back on the freeway for a mile. The trail is so popular the parking lot fills by 10 am on sunny weekends, leaving latecomers to park half a mile away. Leave nothing of value in your car as break-ins are a problem at the trailhead.
Recreation Fee Pass (Northwest Forest Pass) parking permits are required at the trailhead. They cost $5 per car per day or $30 per season.
The trail starts along the creek but soon climbs well above it along a slope of cedars and mossy maples. After 0.8 mile the trail traverses a cliff with cables as handrails. At the 1.5-mile mark several short side trails to the right lead down to a viewpoint of 100-foot Metlako Falls in the distance.
Continue on the main trail 0.3 mile to a ridge-end junction with the Lower Punchbowl Trail, a 0.2-mile side trail down to a broad, 15-foot falls with a bedrock bank suitable for sunbathing in warm conditions. Hike upstream to a gravel beach to peer ahead to picturesque, 30-foot Punchbowl Falls in a huge, mossy rock bowl.
Then return to the Eagle Creek Trail and continue 1.2 miles to High Bridge, a metal footbridge across a dizzying, slot-like chasm. Here the creek has exposed a long crack in the earth - the fault along which this valley formed. For a nice lunch spot, continue 0.4 mile to Tenas Campground (on the right) and Skooknichuck Falls (on the left). Continue on to duck behind Tunnel Falls, and 200 yards later gain a view ahead to the valley's last great, unnamed waterfall.
You can also continue past 7 1/2 mile camp to the Tanner Butte area which is up ahead. See other posts for that information.
Built in the 1910s to accompany the opening of the Columbia River Highway, the Eagle Creek Trail was blasted out the cliffs with dynamite by Italian engineers. The area above the 800-foot-elevation mark was officially designated Wilderness in 1984.