Hike to Metlako & Punchbowl Falls

Eagle Creek Trailhead

Check out two of the Columbia River Gorge's most popular waterfalls: Metlako and Punchbowl. During the warmer months, there are some great spots for a swim along the route.

This is a fairly short hike. 2 miles in to Punchbowl Falls (past Metlako Falls) and then 2 miles out. I’ve done it in all sorts of conditions from 95 degree sunny summer days to a trip in a deep freeze where I got in my wetsuit and shot under/over shots of Punchbowl while snow dumped down on me. To check out Metalko Falls, it's a quick side trip just off the trail. After you've been hiking for about a mile and half, head onto the spur trail the shouts out to the right. It's a quick hike out and back to check it out.

This is an amazing hike because for the short 2 mile hike into Punchbowl you see so much. You are deep in the woods, you climb to tall exposed cliffs along steep besalt cliffs and you see 2 huge waterfalls plus a bunch of creek crossings. Bang for you buck? This is the best hike in the gorge for any first time visitor.

Be prepared to pay the $5 fee at any Gorge trailhead OR just buy a Northwest Pass if you do enough hiking to justify it. Those are only $30 and you can pick them up at your local REI or other outdoor retailers. In the summer and on weekends are times for the biggest crowds. If you can get there on a weekday you might just get the place to yourself. It’s worth one day of PTO!

Pack List

  • Since it's a short hike, you don't need too much
  • $5 for Parking or $30 for a Northwest Pass
  • At the top of your list should always be water - long or short is the most basic necessity
  • I always have matches with as well
  • Poler Excursion Pack and Insert - the insert and pack do a great job of protecting and organizing my camera body and lenses
  • Canon 5D Mark ii - It’s my baby
  • Headlamp
  • Sandwich
  • Sunnies
  • If you go in the summer don’t forget your suit
Show More
RT Distance 4 Miles
Elevation Gain 500 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Scenic

Loved this trail!!! Very scenic and great views. Some spots on the trail are closed for maintenance and indefinitely. Being on the ledges with only the cord to hold on too were a tad scary with others on the trail. Lower punchbowl Falls is great to just take a dunk but when you go to the actual punchbowl Falls it was very cold water and deep even with the water being low. 90 degree weather during the hike the water felt amazing!!! I knew I'd warm up as soon as I got out of the water! The mountain water was so clear!!! 5 star recommend going!!! No need to pack a lot just you and your water bottle!

Beautiful, But Wet

PNW & wet go hand in hand but even on a beautiful dry afternoon be prepared to walk under tumbling water and across heavy streams. Also important to note the main lot that you reach is about a half mile walk to the trail head rounding out this hike just over 5 miles out and back.

An Easy Hike with A Big Reward

The Eagle Creek Trail is the perfect easy hike for any age. The Punchbowl is great place to get some great waterfall shots and cool off from that summer heat. After your hike check out the Thunder Island Brewery near the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks. The Brewery sits right on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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