About Metlako Falls
Metlako Falls was the first major waterfall we encountered on Eagle Creek. Due to the steepness of the gorge, our view of the falls was from a rather distant lookout that hugged the nearly vertical-walled cliffs a little further downstream (see the photo at the top of this page). Through the foliage, we also noticed a companion waterfall (very hard to see) just to its left, which we thought might have been called Sorenson Falls because it was said to be on Sorenson Creek. I wasn’t sure if it would be possible, but it sure would’ve been quite cool to see both falls together. While this waterfall was attractive (albeit inaccessible from the Eagle Creek Trail), it was merely a side attraction to the more popular waterfalls further upstream on Eagle Creek.
While we were hiking the Eagle Creek Trail, we saw the spur for Metlako Falls about 1.5 miles into the hike. This spur led right to the cliff’s edge with a railing to keep us from getting foolishly too close to the dropoffs. Along the way, we passed by numerous (almost uncountable) other tributary waterfalls on both sides of the gorge. The trail itself was also quite scenic as it hugged Eagle Creek close to the base of the gorge at first before ascending and clinging to cliffhugging ledges that precariously overlooked the Eagle Creek Gorge.
This waterfall could have easily been its own attraction, but the Eagle Creek Trail featured plenty of other waterfalls (including Punch Bowl Falls and others we didn’t do like Tunnel Falls, Eagle Creek Falls, etc.). For that reason, we saw that this trail was very popular even though it had its share of hazards such as dropoff exposure. I could also foresee this being a rather strenuous hike had we made it all the way to Tunnel Falls (which would be 12 miles round trip). In fact, we saw on the local news that one woman fell to her death a couple days after we did this trail so I think our concerns about the hazards and the slippery trail conditions were warranted.
Finally, being able to view this waterfall is now a thing of the past (at least as of the last time I was on the Eagle Creek Trail in August 2017). The reason why was because the cliff that supported the Metlako Falls overlook had collapsed in a major landslide around December 2016. With continuing instability in the cliffs, signs had been erected all over the vicinity of the trail (probably also to obscure where the trail used to be), and proceeding beyond the closure signs would be foolish considering more could still fall at any time. Then, there was the Eagle Creek Fire that started in the Eagle Creek Gorge by some teens who thoughtlessly threw fireworks for social media likes. The end result was the entire area being burned so any steep slopes or cliff ledges would now be prone to landslides due to soil instability as the vegetation holding them up are no longer alive. I doubt that longer trails like Eagle Creek would be open or even re-built for the foreseeable future.
The Eagle Creek Trailhead can be reached by exiting off the I-84 eastbound at the Eagle Creek exit (Exit 41). This exit is about 40 miles (45 minutes drive) east of Portland.
If you’re westbound on I-84, there’s no direct access and you’ll have to exit at Bonneville Dam (Exit 40; 4 miles west of Cascade Locks), then go under the freeway, and hop back on the I-84 going eastbound (essentially doing a big U-turn). Exit 41 for Eagle Creek would be another mile.
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