Portland, OR: Wahtum Lake via Eagle Creek and Herman Creek Trails

Find primo lakeside camping on a rainforest-to-alpine loop.
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Find primo lakeside camping on a rainforest-to-alpine loop.

Wahtum Lake, in the rainforest of Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, lies halfway through an ideal 33-mile loop (link the Eagle Creek and Herman Creek Trails). Designated sites along this gem's south shore are perfectly placed between the water and the flower-carpeted hillsides.
Plus, as local resident Craig Romano notes, "Wahtum is a great basecamp for a hike up to the grassy summit of 4,673-foot Chinidere Mountain, with views of five volcanoes." Hike counterclockwise and start on the Eagle Creek Trail, with more falls than any other trail in the gorge and acres of never-logged Douglas firs.
MAP: Green Trails Bonneville Dam ($6, greentrailsmaps.com)
CONTACT: (503) 668-1700, fs.fed.us/r6/mthood
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto (Bosco Mountain Photo) and Galen Williams

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 40.5

Waypoints

WAH001

Location: 45.636941, -121.919641

From the Eagle Creek Trailhead, follow Eagle Creek Trail through lush forest.

WAH002

Location: 45.627688, -121.897195

Optional: Follow the spur trail to the left to access the Metlako Falls viewpoint (spur on the right is blocked by a deadfall).

WAH003

Location: 45.624761, -121.896003

Pass the spur to Lower Punchbowl Falls, a popular dayhike destination; there's a deep pool below the falls.

WAH004

Location: 45.612764, -121.886167

A short spur trail leads down to a campsite on a small wooded bluff above Eagle Creek.

WAH005

Location: 45.608258, -121.882582

Cross High Bridge over a deep slot cut by Eagle Creek.

WAH006

Location: 45.591075, -121.862842

Continue straight past a 3-way junction with a faint, overgrown connector to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

WAH007

Location: 45.585071, -121.852538

The trail reaches Tunnel Falls. A steep spur leads to the base of the falls.

WAH008

Location: 45.582162, -121.85197

Stop for a minute to watch the multi-tiered Twister Falls.

WAH009

Location: 45.564214, -121.854708

Turn hard left at 3-way, heading northeast.

WAH010

Location: 45.577853, -121.840997

Bear left at Y-junction.

WAH011

Location: 45.580887, -121.800871

The trail reaches the western edge of Wahtum Lake, a small lake flanked by dense evergreens.

WAH012

Location: 45.578649, -121.791987

Look through the trees for views of Wahtum Lake.

WAH013

Location: 45.57744, -121.792985

Pass the parking area for Wahtum Lake. Cross the road and pick up the trail heading northeast.

WAH014

Location: 45.596414, -121.796118

Turn right at T-junction on Herman Creek Trail.

WAH015

Location: 45.623417, -121.788726

Stay left at Y-junction.

WAH016

Location: 45.639743, -121.79806

Cross Whisky Creek. Ahead, cross 4 more creeks.

WAH017

Location: 45.656093, -121.813059

Stay left at Y-junction.

WAH018

Location: 45.668585, -121.815076

Continue straight at the Camp Creek crossing.

WAH019

Location: 45.671854, -121.820354

This creeklet dive-bombs 100 feet into a deeply cut, moss- and fern-covered side canyon.

WAH020

Location: 45.68013, -121.829195

Pass primitive campsites at Herman Creek Camp (no permit required). Keep straight at 3-way. Chanterelle mushrooms grow in forest duff.

WAH021

Location: 45.679771, -121.840301

Keep straight (southwest) at 3-way; descend switchbacks.

WAH022

Location: 45.678758, -121.843271

Bear right @ 3-way; Herman Creek rages below.

WAH023

Location: 45.681232, -121.84267

Turn left onto needle-covered trail past monster Douglas firs and big-leaf maples; orange tiger lilies bloom under power lines.

WAH024

Location: 45.68396, -121.841136

Turn left past seasonal bathrooms.

WAH025

Location: 45.682723, -121.844516

Pick up shuttle car from Herman Creek Campground to return to Waypoint 1.

Cascades along Eagle Creek

Location: 45.616236, -121.886916

Several side creeks and streams empty into Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek Trail

Location: 45.636209, -121.916742

The hike climbs a lush, forested trail.

Metlako Falls

Location: 45.627132, -121.897463

The first waterfall along Eagle Creek, viewed from a lookout on a short side spur.

Punchbowl Falls

Location: 45.622284, -121.894544

Punchbowl Falls, viewed right off the Eagle Creek Trail.

Loowit Falls

Location: 45.609242, -121.883579

Loowit Falls seen from the Eagle Creek Trail.

Tunnel Falls

Location: 45.585152, -121.852112

Hiker exiting the tunnel behind Tunnel Falls.

Twister Falls

Location: 45.582171, -121.851833

The upper section of this multi-tiered waterfall can be seen from a high section of trail.

Wahtum Lake

Location: 45.578754, -121.791773