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Punchbowl Falls Hike

Punchbowl Falls Hike

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • Punchbowl Falls Trail Maps
  • How to Get to Punchbowl Falls
Total Distance (?)3.4 miles (5.5 km)
Hike Time2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)970 feet (296m)
Highest Elevation520 feet (158m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Park Phone541-308-1700

The Punchbowl Falls hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Colombia River Gorge. This hike has waterfalls, cliffs, and scenery straight out of the Lord of the Rings. It’s easy to understand how Punchbowl Falls is a local’s favorite, and is good for all levels of hikers.

If you visit Eagle Creek in the fall, you might be able to see coho and chinook salmon spawning in Eagle Creek. Down the road is the Cascade Hatchery, where coho salmon are raised in an effort to restore the fish stocks of the Columbia Gorge.

As you hike up the steep gorge, you’ll see the basalt cliffs along Eagle Creek Trail that were made about 10-15 million years ago when lava was exposed to the air and water, then rapidly cooled. Eagle Creek carved the gorge that you’re walking up over thousands and thousands of years.

You’ll see signs telling you not to jump off Punchbowl Falls. Punchbowl Falls is over 100 feet high. People jump off the cliff. People are stupid. Do not jump off the cliff.

Getting to Punchbowl Falls

Use this trailhead address: 74162 NE Eagle Creek Loop, Cascade Locks, OR, 97014, USA.

You need a parking pass for Eagle Creek Trailhead.. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every park, monument, and national forest. Otherwise buy a Northwest Forest Pass at a ranger station or in some local shops.

Gear for the Hike

You can get away with fitness clothes here but hiking gear will certainly help. I recommend bringing 1L of water.

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated July 2021.

My July 2021 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Punchbowl Falls Hike Maps

The Eagle Creek Trail has sections with a steep drop on one side. There is a steel wire secured to the cliff that you can hold on to, but it is not a place for children or dogs to run free. Take your time, hold on, and be safe.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Fenix 6 Pro

How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.

Punchbowl Falls Hike 3d map
The hike to Punchbowl Falls gently climbs along the Eagle Creek Trail #440.
Punchbowl Falls Hike elevation
The hike climbs up above Eagle Creek, then you descend down to the falls.

Punchbowl Falls Hike Directions

It’s easy to say thank you for this guide!

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Eagle Creek trailhead
The Eagle Creek trailhead is at the far end of the lot by the little shed.
Eagle Creek Trail
Don’t go down the trail to the shed, keep hiking left onto the Eagle Creek Trail.
Punchbowl Falls Hike trail
The trail winds up along the side of Eagle Creek through a wonderland of cliffs, waterfalls, and lush vegetation.
basalt cliffs in Eagle Creek valley
Take time to admire the view of basalt cliffs across the Eagle Creek valley.
Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek flows below. Make sure you stay safely on trail.
Punchbowl Falls Hike trail
After about 1.3 miles there is a turnoff to the right. Continue hiking left, or make a side trip down to the view and come back and continue.
Punchbowl Falls Hike trail crosses creek
At about 1.5 miles, you’ll hike across a little creek.
Punchbowl Falls Hike trail
At about 1.6 miles, there’s a grove of trees. The main Eagle Creek Trail continues left. To go to Punchbowl Falls, hike to the right, through the trees to a trail down to the creek.
signs warning against jumping off of Punchbowl Falls
You’ll see signs warning against jumping off of Punchbowl Falls.
cris hazzard at punchbowl falls
Hike down the hill and you’re at Eagle Creek, above Punchbowl Falls!
scenery around Eagle Creek and Punchbowl Falls
Make sure you explore, create a rock sculpture, and poke around the spectacular scenery around Eagle Creek. When you’re done, hike back the way you came.
Punchbowl Falls
Stop at the viewpoint turnoff on the way back to see Punchbowl Falls. It’s worth it!

This guide last updated on March 15, 2019. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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