Flying High at Eagle Creek in Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Three things about this trail make it the “one to take if you only take one hike this year.” One, Eagle Creek is waterfall heaven, with six cascades in twelve miles. Two, with lots of satisfying turnarounds, you can go all twelve, or do smaller hikes for short days or short legs. Three, you can admire both nature and human engineering here; the high, path, blasted from basalt is a vertiginous thrill—steel cables calm the fainthearted. I love looking down the slot canyon from High Bridge, and ducking behind Tunnel Falls before snapping rainbows in the spray, fifty feet below. Secret bonus: most stop here, but 200-foot Twister Falls is just another half mile. Proximate to Portland, Eagle Creek is popular. For fuller falls and an emptier path, I go in late fall or winter.