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Eagle Creek Trail in Columbia River Gorge reopens 3 years after devastating wildfire

The U.S. Forest Service reopened the trail on Dec. 28. Hikers were out on a soggy Monday, excited to explore.

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore — It’s been more than three years since the Eagle Creek Fire roared through the Columbia River Gorge and closed the Eagle Creek Trail. The forest is coming back, and now too are the hikers. 

“That trail is one of the premier destinations in Oregon for good reason,” said U.S. Forest Service trails supervisor Nathaniel Brodie. “Our partners, specifically Pacific Crest Trail Association, have spent literally over 6,000 person hours opening this trail in the summer heat and the winter rains. Literally, just blood, sweat, and tears chipping away at this trail to bring it back from the dead.”

From fallen trees to rock falls across the trail, there are reminders here of the fire, and there will be for a long time. Brodie says it’s possible thousands more trees will fall over the next 10 to 20 years.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW
Burned out tree along the Eagle Creek Trail

“If there's significant winds, I would stay away from the forest or be heads up and be alert and have your situational awareness up at all times,” he said.

“There's a couple of places where there are small entries,” said hiker Sydney Babcock. “It's super muddy, I just think people should go slow.”

Aaron Metcalf was also out hiking Monday morning. He’s excited to see the trail getting some use again.

“Hearing that the trail was open, I was so stoked,” he said. “I had the day off and it was kind of a no-brainer to come out here no matter what the weather.”

Brodie said if you’re going to head out to enjoy the trail, be careful and prepared. The landscape has changed, and so will the way we care for it.

“It is just a spectacular trail that offers a full breadth of Oregon and Columbia River Gorge ecosystems, so it's certainly a favorite,” Brodie said. “I can see why it's a favorite to other people. and I'm happy that we're able to open it so that we all can enjoy it again.”