Punch Bowl Falls

12 07 2013

IMG_6028Regardless of where you reside, chances are you’ve seen a photo of Punch Bowl Falls located in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Hood River County. Punch Bowl Falls literally made a name for itself as the inspiration for the worldwide waterfall classification of “punchbowl” in referring to any falls of this type. Punch Bowl Falls resembles a ladle dipping into a bowl or punch being poured into a bowl with its majestic falls plunging into a bowl-shaped pool at its base. Swimming in the bowl is permitted, and if you brave the too-cold-for-comfort water temperature, then the falls provide a dreamy backdrop for your swim. Diving or jumping into the bowl clearly is prohibited. Punch Bowl Falls drops 90 degrees and is approximately 35 feet high and 10 feet wide depending on the season.



Two trails access two views of Punch Bowl Falls. The trailhead is the same for both, then Lower Punch Bowl Trail branches off a mile and a half into the hike and descends less than a mile to Lower Punch Bowl Falls. Lower Punch Bowl Falls presents an up-close view of the famous falls and its smaller, secondary falls flowing from the pool and continuing as Eagle Creek (not to be confused with Eagle Creek in Clackamas County). At the Lower Punch Bowl Falls trail junction, continue on Eagle Creek Trail another two miles to the fenced upper viewpoint to see Punch Bowl Falls from the top. Note: I use the term “to see” loosely since it’s difficult to grab a good peek at the falls through the foliage, especially if you are of average height and cannot quite get your eyes above the bushes. Holding the camera above-head does not work so well either. Without my taller friend and fellow outdoor enthusiast, Doug, along to capture a great shot, mine will have to do.


The Eagle Creek Trail #440 leads you along Eagle Creek, past and sometimes under cliffs with gently raining waterfalls, over shallow streams, through various wildflowers, and into a shady old growth forest. The Eagle Creek Trail is treacherous in some spots where its narrow, steep, wet and rocky path hugs a cliff and is devoid of railings. Only a couple short lengths of trail have metal rope fastened into cliffs. The hike difficulty is moderate. I see children of all ages, including my own, enjoying the trail.



To arrive at the Punch Bowl Falls parking lot and Eagle Creek Trailhead, take I-84 east or west. It is on the south side of I-84. If coming from the west, take exit 41 (Eagle Creek). If coming from the east, take exit 40 (Bonneville Dam) that is one mile past the parking lot and requires that you turn around since the Punch Bowl Falls parking lot is only directly accessible to eastbound travelers. There’s a $5 per vehicle per day fee payable at the parking lot, or display your Northwest Forest Pass.

Cascade Locks is the closest town to Punch Bowl Falls, and you have to drive there and turn around once you leave the parking lot if you’re heading west on I-84 after your hike. I recommend that you stop in Cascade Locks for a meal at the Bridgeside restaurant or for an ice cream treat at East Wind Drive-In. Both overlook the Bridge of the Gods and the Columbia River. Either place provides repletion to a day of hiking Punch Bowl Falls.


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2 responses

17 07 2013
Doug Bourquein

Great to see that you are out and about this summer. My family leaves for Central Oregon this Friday. I will do my best to take a few photos from a high vantage point. Fun posts Kim.

17 07 2013

Have a great time and I’d love for you to share your view of the world with me! Wherever you go, grab any info and shots you can get. I welcome learning about new places and getting new perspectives.

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