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Eagle Creek Overlook Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The viewing porch of the CCC shelter, Eagle Creek Overlook (bobcat)
Western trillium (Trillium ovatum), Eagle Creek Overlook (bobcat)
Table Mt. and Greenleaf Peak, Eagle Creek Overlook (bobcat)



The Civilian Conservation Corps (1933 - 1942) was established during the Great Depression to offer government-funded employment to young men ages 18 - 25. CCC youth had to be U.S. citizens, unmarried, of "good character", and in good physical condition. The young men involved were able to carry skills learned into civilian life although many of the later participants were drafted into World War II. The U.S. Forest Service, then a relatively young entity, benefited greatly from CCC projects. While many CCC participants were engaged in firefighting, they also built trails, shelters, and campgrounds. The Eagle Creek Overlook was one such CCC project. Completed in 1938, the buildings, retaining walls, and trails, all in the trademark "Cascadian Rustic" style, were constructed to facilitate public viewing of the construction of the Bonneville Dam. It is a fascinating, but short, stroll around the features of this historic site.

Note that the Overlook is now a picnic area and group campground for up to 90 people, the latter reserved through a concessionaire. The group campground is open May 1st to September 30th, so the Overlook Trail should only be hiked, if you are not part of a group that is camping here, from October through April. The nearby freeway and railroad do not make for this to be a quiet hike, but in the off-season, there won't be a lot of visitors around and a spring or fall visit is especially beautiful.

Walk past the gate (open only to those using the group campground) to the Overlook Trailhead, and get views of the Bonneville Dam. The Overlook Trail switchbacks up through an oak copse and then under Douglas-firs as you approach the campground area. Stroll along the stone wall getting views of the dam through ponderosa pines. Pass the Civilian Conservation Corps Shelter, with its stone-columned porch, kitchen, and restrooms, where people stopped to see the building of the dam. This building underwent a restoration project in 1994. Drop a little and pick up a trail switchbacking down twice to views over the river and east to the Bridge of the Gods. On the Washington side, you can see Aldrich Butte, Table Mountain, and Greenleaf Peak. In the Columbia River itself, look for little Picture Rock and Boat Islands. Trillium, snow queen and violet bloom along this path in early spring. There’s a use trail leading off to the right to access a small beach, but it’s something of a scramble down the last few feet.

Head back up and resume walking around the perimeter. Take the campground road back heading along a fence line above the freeway (Remember, do not visit this area if the campground is occupied).

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Freeway and railroad noise
  • Picnic area, interpretive signs
  • Group campground (reservations required) open May 1st to September 30th; closed to the general public when the campground is occupied.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster

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Oregon 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.

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