Tunnel Falls July 21-22
When the latest issue of Backpacker Magazine came out, a small article was written about hiking Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls in Oregon. After a quick search, I found this to be the a nice backpacking trip for the kids. They would be fascinated by the tunnel behind the huge waterfall and all the other waterfalls along the way. The trail follows along a canyon with steep drop offs for many miles, though our destination was 6 miles down the trail. Parts of the trail have a cable lining the trail to be used to hold onto while walking. I was a bit nervous but the kids abided by my rule of using the cable line when ever it was present. It truly didn’t seem too exposed but it was definitely a motherly concern while walking with kids.
It took us about three hours to get from the Tacoma to the TH off of I-84. As we pulled up, it was already lunch time. We pulled the packs out, made PB&Js as we prepared for a couple days in the woods. The Eagle Creek Trailhead is pretty popular with parking as far away as a quarter mile (where we parked). After a quick lunch, we put our packs on, retied boots, tightened down packs and set out on our first out-of-state backpacking trip. The trail was quite nice and wide for the first few miles. We passed a couple waterfalls. This is a really beautiful area and the kids were eager to drop their packs at every waterfall and down climb to each of the falls. Unfortunately, with a later start, I had to keep challenging them to continue on so that we could get to camp by a reasonable time. Eventually, we had stopped so many times along the way that everyone began to get tired. It was as if the energy had been zapped by 3:00. Our pace had slowed and the kids just wanted to get to camp. Normally hiking 4 miles is nothing for these two, but when you sit in a car for three hours, then start hiking at mid day, it tends to be more difficult on the body.
I decided to find camp at the Four and a Half Bridge, which happens to be 4.5 miles down the trail. We found a nice, flat camping spot about a tenth of a mile from the bridge turn off. Our spot sat next to the creek, down in the canyon. After setting up camp, we collected dishes/pan/stove and headed back toward the bridge. Dinner was cooked on a large rock sitting along the river. Rosabell enjoyed making mac and cheese for everyone. After dinner, the kids took turns jumping into the creek and drying off in the sun.
As evening came, we made our way back to camp. J-Hawk packed up all the trash/food in the bear canister and hid it and Rosabell and I organized the tent so we could play some cards. We finally tired ourselves out and fell asleep around 10. Falling asleep next to a creek is one of the most ideal places.
The sun woke us up around 8 and we quickly ate breakfast. This morning’s goal was to grab a daypack and head out another 1.5 miles to find the Tunnel Falls. By 9, we were on our way. It was a nice morning with many already on the trail. We made our way across some exposed sections and some scree fields. Eventually we turned the corner and witnessed one of the most beautiful waterfalls. We had arrived. The area surrounding the waterfall was so lush and green and a carved out trail ran behind a wall behind a waterfall. Rosabell was so ecstatic and I was so excited for the kids. This is a really exposed trail, though. Falling off this trail would be deadly as it rises up at least 60 feet from the bottom. Perhaps more, I just don’t want to exaggerate. We walked along the trail, through the tunnel and around to the other side. We could have sat there for hours admiring nature. We all agreed that we would return here again with more people.
After a half hour or so, we made ourselves head back as tough as it was. An hour later, we arrived back at our camp, packed up and headed out. The journey back wasn’t anything notable except that it seemed hotter and the kids seemed less energized. At one point we stopped by a tiny waterfall and Rosabell just stood under it letting the water fall all over her. After a few hours, we arrived back at the car and headed back home.