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Grand Union Falls

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Grand Union Falls as seen from the Eagle Creek Trail (Jeff Statt)
Eagle Creek Trail through "The Potholes" (Jeff Statt)
A closeup of the rocky trail (Steve Hart)



One of several dozen "lesser" falls on Eagle Creek, Grand Union Falls might be a destination on its own in many other places in the region, but in Eagle Creek it is upstaged by it's nearby cousin Tunnel Falls. The falls are visible from the Eagle Creek Trail between Blue Grouse Camp and Tunnel Falls in an area sometimes referred to as The Potholes.

The falls are named for the nearby confluence of the East and West Forks of Eagle Creek. Directly upstream from the junction on the East Fork is the aforementioned Tunnel Falls. If topography allowed you to continue right and travel .3 of a mile, you'd reach Twister Falls.

Eagle Creek Trail is known for it's cliffside locations, but the Potholes is a pretty special place all its own. Here, the trail was blasted from the cliff, a common technique in the area. The rock here, however, was columnar basalt and it fractured in odd patterns, sometimes like a bowl that collects rain water dripped from above, sometimes the other way forming a dome shaped protrusion. When you pass through here, you're actually walking on top of columns of basalt, formed when a huge lava flow cooled slowly enough to allow the crystal like structures to form.

Of course,you might be safer stopping while you ponder. The footing here is treacherous at best and deserves all of your attention.

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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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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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.