Punchbowl Falls is One of The Most Popular Hikes in Oregon

PunchBowl Falls
A rare shot of Punchbowl Falls when frozen, which does not happen often. (Photo by Paul Weeks / www.paulweeksphotography.com)

Last updated on January 27th, 2022 at 09:36 am

The thing about living in Oregon, if you love to explore then you couldn’t pick a better place to live as there is always a new adventure. If you’re looking for somewhere new this weekend to explore, you’ll be sure to want to check out Punchbowl Falls. This area was built in the early 1900s as part of an effort to begin preserving parkland areas in the Columbia River Gorge.

Punchbowl Falls Hiking Guide


Punchbowl Falls, easily one of the most beautiful places to explore in Oregon, is a very popular waterfall on Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Eagle Creek drains into the Columbia River, with its outlet on the Columbia River Gorge in Multnomah County. At just around 3.8 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of 500 feet, this hike is considered much shorter than other trails in the area.

The falls are 35 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Eagle Creek cuts through a narrow channel and shoots powerfully into a large bowl that resembles a punchbowl. This waterfall was responsible for the waterfall classification type of punchbowl.

Punchbowl Falls
Punchbowl Falls, Image courtesy of Mick O / Flickr

This gorgeous waterfall is a very popular place to cool off as the weather warms up in Oregon. In 2017 a large portion of the Columbia River Gorge was damaged during the Eagle Creek Fire, one of the worst blazes the Columbia River Gorge has seen in generations — burning nearly 50,000 acres. The fire was caused by firecrackers thrown by a 15-year-old boy. As reported here, The Lower Punchbowl Falls trail (#440B) remains closed due to Eagle Creek fire damage.

Make sure and watch the video below to see for yourself how beautiful this trail is.

Things to Note

Difficulty: Easy
Length of Hike: 4 miles round-trip
Distance from Portland: 45 minutes by car
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Seasons Open: Year-round
Use: Hiking, Trail Running
Road Conditions: Paved
Swimming: Yes, in the summer
Bathroom: Yes, seasonal
Overnight Camping: Yes, there is a nearby campground
Pros: Spectacular path passing many stunning waterfalls, winding through old-growth forests, and along the edges of cliffs
Cons: Crowded and parking is limited
Region: Columbia Gorge, OR
Congestion: Crowded
Preferable Season(s): Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required: Yes
Dogs allowed: Yes

Directions on how to get to Punchbowl Falls

Eagle Creek Trailhead:  Traveling eastbound on I-84, take Exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road. You will go past a footbridge (that takes hikers up to Wauna Viewpoint) as the road narrows to one lane. Continue a short ways to a large parking lot; park only in designated spaces. NW Forest Pass required. Coming from the east, there is no westbound exit at Exit #41/Eagle Creek. You must continue on I-84 and get off at Exit #40/Bonneville Dam, get back on the interstate and head east for one mile to Exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road. You will go past a footbridge (that takes hikers up to Wauna Viewpoint) as the road narrows to one lane. Continue a short way to a large parking lot; park only in designated spaces. NW Forest Pass required.