Paula and I headed North East to Eagle Creek (5/30/2010) to scout out the end of the trail for the Pacific Crest Trail backpacking trip in late July. Dan, Brian and I plan to start at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and backpack all the way down and around, ending at the Eagle Creek trailhead. I wanted to show Paula where Eagle Creek was so she’d know where to pick us up, as well as take a quick hike up the trail to see what the terrain would be like. So, off we went.
We were lucky because as we reached the end of the parking lot, someone just pulled out, so we zipped into that space. Between the time it took to grab our water and stuff, we saw at least 20 cars pull in, look around for a spot, and then head back out. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon” indicated that Eagle Creek was super-crowded because it was conveniently located along the highway and was a fairly easy trail. Well, we believed it.
I also took my new Gregory Baltoro 70 backpack along on the hike. I’d be taking it along on my PCT backpacking trip, so I wanted to test it out. You can’t really tell from the picture, but I’ve also got my medicine ball and some other weight in the backpack just to simulate actual load.
The first cool waterfall we saw was Metlako Falls. Apparently, there’s some hard-to-find trail to get down there, and then you can swim across to the base (I’ve heard about it on PortlandHikers.org), but that wasn’t on today’s agenda.
There were a few scenic streams crossing the trail. We have been getting some record rainfall so far this year, so there was plenty of water in the creeks and streams.
We found a side trail that took us down into the gorge to Lower Punchbowl Falls.
Around the corner by Paula in the above picture, you can see Upper Punchbowl Falls. However, the water was too high, and even after clambering out over the rocks to the end of the path, we still could not see all the way around. In the summer, that may be a nice and cool thing to see.
This is Lower Punchbowl Falls. The picture at the very top with Paula is another shot of it.
Here’s Eagle Creek Gorge standing at Lower Punchbowl Falls looking up toward where we were standing out on the rocks. We then turned around and headed back up to the Eagle Creek Trail and then upstream toward the Upper Punchbowl Falls viewpoint.
Here is Upper Punchbowl Falls. We ran into a bunch of backpackers with Jet Boil stoves boiling up some water for their lunch.
Paula and I continued up the trail passing some meadows full of wildflowers. I’m pretty sure these purple ones are Mountain Heather. If they’re not, someone let me know!
That is a cool boulder out in the creek. It matches everything but still looks slightly out of place. Certainly worth a photo.
We managed to step over and around the three different photographers taking pictures of Loowit Falls and got this picture. Pretty cool
We made it up to High Bridge. I don’t think Paula was very comfortable standing on the middle of the bridge peering down into the deep gorge with rushing water below, so we took a quick picture or two and crossed to solid ground on the other side.
She looks quite a bit more relaxed now that we were safe on the opposite side.
We made it just beyond Skoonichuk Falls to about the 3.5 mile mark, and decided that a 7-mile round trip day would be just fine, so we did an about-face and headed back down the trail.
We saw this additional view of Loowit Falls on the way back down, which was also pretty nice, so we got this shot, too. We headed back out and then had a beer and a nice lunch out at Pacific Crest Pub and sampled their extra-hot horseradish.