Moss Covered Trees Foregound Eagle Creek
Photograph - Photograph
My recipe for a good summer of hikes is to start out along the banks of Eagle Creek. With decent weather in May (as long as it's not raining), you can have a great workout, hike, or even an overnighter.
We all know the Columbia River Gorge is a feast for the senses simply from driving it, but to have the opportunity to get boots dirty in its grandeur takes Gorge beauty to new levels. And many people know this. You will not have a hike of solitude here, but I was surprised to find parking spots at the Trailhead near the highway (mainly because others parked at other trailhead a little upriver).
This hike has all you would want. The comforting rippling of nearby waters do more than doctor's prescriptions. The ups and downs of the trail will burn your quads in loving ways. The mountside-cut sections of trail hundreds of feet above the valley floor will summon sense of adventure. Overall, you and only you can get whatever you want from the hike. If you want to hike to the border of Mexico, you can hike the trail to the Pacific Crest Trail and be on your way.
There are many sights to behold. There is a stretch a few miles in where the hike runs along a steep rock wall. This was a little harrowing in that there is you, about a 3ft-wide trail, and then a scary drop below. Along the wall, there is a cable railing to hold/grab/hug on to, but being utterly exposed to elevation will definitely wake you up. Also during this stretch, we had a light waterfall. The trail runs behind the drips of water, but if you run hot (like me), you can nab a quick, cool trail shower here to cool off.
After this, another nice side trip is the Devil's Punch Bowl. It's not too far off the Eagle Creek Trail, but it's far enough to warrant taking a break to take 5 (to eat, rest, or maybe take a dip in warmer months). This deep gorge area offers nice views of the canyon walls, and upstream one can see the namesake. Since the water was too cold, we did not think of walking/slogging/swimming upstream to the actual Punch Bowl, but this would definitely be something to call you during late summer.
June 7th, 2013
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