Heavy rain has once again closed the Eagle Creek Trail, just two weeks after it reopened for the first time since the 2017 wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge.
The U.S. Forest Service is warning the public to stay off the popular path until further notice since many sections of it are blocked by landslides triggered by a storm that moved across the state on Tuesday. Cleanup efforts to remove fallen trees and other debris will begin as soon as the agency deems it is safe to do so.
Eagle Creek welcomed back recreationalists on Jan. 1, three years after a teenager on the trail threw fireworks into extremely dry vegetation, sparking a blaze that ended up tearing through 49,000 acres of land.
Multiple organizations, including Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Pacific Crest Trail Association, worked with the Forest Service and Oregon State Parks to restore the trail.
Since the route reopened, eager outdoor enthusiasts flocked to the area. In fact, the area saw so much traffic, hikers posted alerts about the parking lot quickly filling by early morning on online recreation sites.
In the last few days before the closure, others warned of erosion—which is particularly dangerous now given the many ledges where nothing but sure footing and a cable to hang onto are the only things preventing a deadly fall—as well as creek crossings that had essentially become waist-deep rivers.
The 12.5-mile round trip that ends at Tunnel Falls takes hikers past a variety of cascades and calm pools, though most people tend to turn around at Punchbowl Falls—the trip's best-known and most stunning attraction.
The Eagle Creek Trail isn't the only site hard hit by the recent rain and wind. Toppled trees closed a segment of U.S. Highway 26 near Government Camp, and landslides shut down a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 84 eastbound, from Troutdale to Ainsworth State Park. It's thought that a woman from Warrendale was swept away in that debris flow as she drove through the area.