It was only five days after that epic hike to Ramona Falls that we decided to take this shorter hike from the gorge on the Eagle Creek Trail to end up at Punchbowl Falls. I was recovered from my 7 miles by Friday and had a new pack to try out so we had to go!
I had done some reading about the trail as I always do so I can have some sort of idea of what to expect. One part of the reading really struck me and I thought it was weird coming after how I had just read that this hike is one of the most popular and easier trails and is a real draw to a lot of people living here and visiting Oregon and then I read that many people have fallen to their deaths from the cliffs that this trail is notorious for. Yikes! For some reason that really stuck in my head the whole time on the trail and so being extra careful was a no brainer.
Now this is the part where I tell you that I tripped and fell. I am alive of course so no, I didn't fly off a cliff or take a nose dive in to that punch bowl to never return but I did however, take a nose dive or rather a head dive on the soil packed trail on our way back to the trail head after seeing the magnificent Punchbowl Falls.
I cannot even tell you how it happened. I am fine now with some bumps and bruises and a purplish black eye that gets looks from people that see me every single day. They laugh and tease but do so because they love me and are sure I am ok. So… I am ok and have learned that watching my step on any trail is really important. I will pay more attention to where my feet are and what I am doing and probably keep my mouth shut a little more too.
Let's talk about Eagle Creek and this trail. It is an easy trail. The elevation is only about 500 ft. over a few miles in and of course a few miles out which is mostly a slight downhill. We saw many people on this trail and what I've heard is, is that the weekends in summertime is crazy! Once we got to the falls, there were people sunbathing, swimming and even a few jumping in which is by the way against the law. So, I highly recommend you don't do that! For the most part, it was a warm sunny day and the perfect day for a hike in the Columbia Gorge so it was really no surprise to see this trail alive with smiling faces and fast treks to the water.
You will read about this trail and find that some of it is pretty dangerous. There are cliffs and drop offs and in one particular area, the drop off is amazingly narrow and I'm surprised there hasn't been some sort of closure for repair here. But, you will find cables to hold on to and that's all good till someone comes the opposite direction. Someone has to back up or scoot around to get around safely. If you're going to ask if I recommend this trail for small children… my answer will be no! If my kiddos were smallish, I would choose a much safer trail. Having said this, there were surprisingly many kids at the falls and so I assume their parents were very clear about the dangers and in complete control of their children's doings on the trail and in the water.
All in all, I'm glad I got to do this trail even with the little dirt pounding I received. I'll heal quickly and be back on another trek soon enough. I think I'll stick with Hoyt and Forest Park for the next week or so and enjoy my backyard hiking trails for a change.
wear comfy steady hiking boots or sneakers
bring plenty of water and snacks
wear and bring sunscreen
think about safety when bringing pets and children on trails with risks
read ahead so you'll know what to expect on the trail
always let someone know where you are and what your plans are
lastly… don't forget your camera. There are some spectacular shots to be taken on the trail!