Eagle Creek Cutoff Trail can be accessed from above Estacada on Forest Road 4614 near the trailhead for the Old Baldy Trail #502
, and it will take you to the Eagle Creek Trail #501
. Another option is to run to the end of the Eagle Creek Trail #501
, ford Eagle Creek, and run this cutoff trail up to the trailhead along Road 4614. Although the trail is just over two miles long, the trail is a relatively steep route into the beautiful and wild Eagle Creek Canyon - this being the "other" Eagle Creek, not the one in the Columbia Gorge, meaning there are few other runners on this trail. Either way you access it, there is no bridge across Eagle Creek, and it will require fording this wilderness creek.
To get to the Estacada side of the trail (south end), from Hwy 224, turn left (east) onto Fall Creek Road and follow it for 0.4 mile to Divers Road. Turn left (north) on Divers Road and follow it for 0.3 mile to Tumala Mountain Road. Turn right and follow Tumala Mountain Road for 6.4 miles and turn left (east) onto Forest Road 4614 for approximately 6.7 miles to a small unmarked pullout on the right (east) side of the road that is lined with large boulders. The trail just off the road is the Old Baldy Trail #502
. Follow this trail east (right) for about 200 feet and access the Eagle Creek Cutoff Trail #504 that heads north (left).
The trail drops into a wet drainage and follows around the bowl of the creek's headwaters before it climbs out of the drainage and up onto the 4,000 foot ridge line covered in rhododendrons. Travel along the ridge line and stop to admire the ridge line views that look over much of the Eagle Creek Canyon and Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness. The trail descends off the ridge line with intermittent drops and switchbacks. As you approach Eagle Creek Trail #501
, there is a series of sharp steep switchbacks. Ignore the user trail on your left and continue towards the creek.
There is no bridge across Eagle Creek, but it is usually able to be forded using river crossing safety tips as a guide.
Wildflowers abound along this higher elevation forest. The marshy drainage at the beginning of the trail has namesake marsh-marigold, false helebore, and skunk cabbage with more western red cedar and Douglas fir. As you climb up to the ridgeline, the rhododendrons, start blooming in June, followed by the bear grass, penstemon, and Indian paintbrush. Patches of snow can still be seen in late June. As you scramble along the high ridge, you will find mountain hemlock, noble and silver fir. As you drop down into the Eagle Creek canyon, you are back into the large Douglas firs, western hemlock, and large western red cedars. This trail gives you both high and low elevation flora in a short, steep run.