In the ten years I've lived in Seattle, somehow I've never really gotten around to exploring the Columbia River Gorge.
On my way back home from last week's quick trip to the Oregon coast, I thought I'd venture in and see what I could find. The Eagle Creek trail has been on my list for a long time, so that's where I decided to start.
This trail's a keeper. There are two sizable waterfalls on a quick out-and-back hike — Metlako Falls at about 1.5 miles, and the magnificent Punchbowl Falls (shown above) about a half-mile further.
If you want to see Punchbowl Falls at eye-level, take an unmarked spur on the right side of the main trail, about a quarter-mile before the falls. This spur drops several hundred feet down to the creek, where you'll hear the falls but won't see them. Follow the bank past the end of the spur trail until you dead-end at a moss-covered cliff.
If you're there during the rainy season when the water is high, prepare to get wet. You'll need to carefully work your way into the creek so you can see around that cliff (it appears this might not be necessary when the water is lower.) Once you've gotten to about the center of the creek, the falls will reveal itself through a narrow gap.
Despite my rain pants and knee-high overshoes, I got soaked. I spent about an hour in the middle of that creek, fighting intermittent rain and slippery rocks — but this is good, relaxing fun as far as I'm concerned. If this trail is any indication of what I'll find as I continue to explore the Gorge, I can't wait to go back.