Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 41. Go right and past the hatchery. There are a number of parking areas.
We finally finished the Eagle Creek trail hikes that you can do without having to camp overnight (you can go all the way to Wahtum Lake but it’s 27 miles total).
We have been wanting to hike all the way to Tunnel Falls for quite a while and we’re so glad we finally did it. It’s an amazing hike!
First, we would recommend starting out as early as possible. We were at the trailhead by 7:00am. You’ll beat the crowds this way and won’t have the rushed feeling that can come along with doing long hikes.
From the trailhead you start out low to the creek as the trail gains elevation taking you to the first of five cable areas. There are two cable areas before Punchbowl Falls and they can be troublesome for people who are afraid of heights. After you pass both cable areas it’s only about a mile to the trail that takes you down to Punchbowl Falls. This side trail is short but steep and takes you down to a wide rocky area on the creek. Giving you a great view of the waterfall.
After you have visited Punchbowl Falls continue on down the trail and in about a quarter mile you’ll come to an area that gives you a view of Punchbowl from above. Continue on the trail for another 3/4 mile or so and you’ll come to Loowit Falls. It’s on the other side of the creek but easily viewable. Just after Loowit Falls you will come to the third cable section in this hike. It’s shorter but just as narrow. Here is where you will start to see High Bridge.
After passing High Bridge the trail continues on and the trail gradually starts heading downhill getting closer to the creek. You’ll be passing a few campsites and 1.2 miles from High Bridge you’ll reach another bridge, named Four and a Half Mile Bridge (gets it’s name because it’s 4.5 miles from the trailhead 🙂 ). This is the last time you’ll cross the creek.
From here continue on the trail as it very gradually heads uphill, passing more campsites along the way. Soon you will come to a wilderness sign-in station (you’ll be entering the Hatfield Wilderness) you are required to fill out a wilderness pass before continuing, it’s free. Continuing on another quarter mile or so you will come to a creek that you have to cross on logs and rocks. It’s very dry right now so it was easily passable, but in the fall and winter it would be very easy to get wet, keep that in mind.
Next you’ll hike through about four different rock slide areas and come to a place called the “Pot Holes” which is a sign you are very close to the waterfall. You’ll round one more corner and start seeing the falls. As you get closer you’ll start seeing how tall the waterfall is and notice the tunnel you walk through behind it. It gets wet as you walk through the tunnel and when you come out the other side you’re greeted with the last cable section of the hike. It’s the shortest but skinniest of the five. There is a slightly wider spot in the trail after the cable area that allows you the best views of beautiful Tunnel Falls!
There are bathrooms at the parking area but that’s it and a $5 parking fee. The elevation gain for this hike is about 1,600 feet but it seems like much less since it’s so stretched out. We wouldn’t recommend this hike for kids or dogs just because it’s 12 miles and there are five cable areas that have a risk for falling. There are multiple news stories each year about people and pets that have fallen on the Eagle Creek trail. Please keep that in mind and hike as safely as you possibly can!
Distance: 12 miles (hard)
Elevation: 1,640 feet (hard)
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: Anyone who’s up for a solidly long hike.
Parking Fee: $5 NW Forest Pass
Warnings: Risk of falling at the cable areas