Punchbowl Falls is one of the state’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls — and the journey to get there is just as memorable as the destination.
From our rental location in Cascade Locks, you’ll ride three car-free miles along the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Eagle Creek trailhead, then hike 2.1 miles up a dramatic slot canyon to reach Punchbowl Falls.
Why we love it
Leave the car traffic behind. You’ll be on a shared roadway for the quarter-mile of the ride, then it’s all car-free bike paths the rest of the way on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.
Swim at the base of Punchbowl Falls. The best waterfalls are the ones you can see and feel, and Punchbowl Falls checks both boxes. The iconic upper falls are visible from the main trail, and you can take a short detour to get your feet wet at Lower Punchbowl Falls.
Experience a fire-adapted forest. The Eagle Creek canyon is now six years into its recovery from the 2017 Eagle Creek fire, and there are signs everywhere of nature working its restorative magic. That said, the trail and cliff faces are still unstable in places, so look out for rock slides and use caution when hiking, especially on the narrower sections of trail.
What you can see and do
Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail: Bonneville Segment. This car-free section of the state trail opened in 2013, helping connect Cascade Locks to John B. Yeon State Park and the west side of the Gorge. The full historic highway state trail, once complete, will stretch more than 70 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles.
Eagle Creek Trail. This popular trail reopened to hikers in 2021 after a nearly four year closure due to the Eagle Creek fire and related landslides. You can hike as far as Wahtum Lake (13.1 miles), but most day hikers turn around at Punchbowl Falls for a four-mile roundtrip journey.
Metlako Falls. The first major waterfall you’ll see on the hike is Metlako Falls, which peeks through the trees shortly before you reach Punchbowl Falls. It’s a good milestone to let you know you’re getting close!
Punchbowl Falls. A landslide has made it more difficult (though not impossible) to reach the basin of the upper falls, but you can still get a great view from above and then climb down to Lower Punchbowl Falls to put your feet in the water.
What type of rental you’ll need
Our non-electric Townie cruiser bikes are perfect for this shorter, less hilly ride on the westbound segment of the Historic Highway State Trail.