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Metlako Falls

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

Metlako Falls (Jeff Statt)
The viewpoint looking upstream toward Metlako Falls (Jeff Statt)

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Description

Metlako Falls is the first major falls along the Eagle Creek Trail, serving as a stunning initiation into the area. At over 100 feet tall, it represents the second-largest drop from the Eagle Creek's sources in the Hatfield Wilderness to its eventual convergence with the Columbia River. (The first is Twister Falls some 5 1/2 miles uptrail).

As seen from the only viewpoint, a near 1/4 mile away, the falls appear to burst out of the side of the gorge walls like a breach in a dam, giving many the false impression that it is the flow of a side creek. This illusion is further exacerbated by the fact your few is partially obscured by trees, and that the creek takes a hard left before heading downstream.

The viewpoint is at the end of a short, well-traveled spur trail off the main Eagle Creek Trail. It is the first spur trail and an obvious turn-off. (There is a sign at the junction, but many miss seeing it). The short spur trail is about a 100 feet in length, dropping about 30 feet in elevation. When you arrive at the viewpoint, some of the mystique is diminished by a cable fence. However, the fence heightens your awareness of the near 90 foot drop-off to the gorge floor below. Parents are cautioned to keep an eye on small children.

At the base of the falls is an impressively large and deep pool. Many are unaware of just how much Metlako Falls resembles nearby upstream Punchbowl Falls when viewed from the front. (Seeing this perspective requires an off-trail bushwhack that is dangerous and not recommended.) Flowing into the same pool, is the much taller Sorenson Falls (from Sorenson Creek). Bryan Swann's Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest website (link below) indicates that the falls is 150 feet tall and is situated just to the left of Metlako Falls, just out of view.

In the last 15 years, Metlako Falls has grown in popularity as the target of thrill-seeking kayakers. They are attracted to the wetter, high-water months, so fair weather hikers may never encounter them on the trail or see them riding the falls.

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Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Oregon's Geology, by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge, by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • 60 Hikes within 60 miles of Portland, by Paul Gerald
  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
  • 35 Hiking Trails, Columbia River Gorge, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge - 1st and 2nd Editions, by Russ Schneider
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan

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Contributors

Portland Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.