Hike 77
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Buck Point Hike
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Map of Buck Point hike

Length: 1.8 miles to the power line overlook and back. Add another mile to the upper overlook and back.
Elevation Change: 570' gain to Buck Point then another 400 feet to the overlook above.
Season: Year Round
Difficulty:   Challenging
Permit:   NW Forest Pass Required

Here is another little jewel of a hike located right in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge. The Buck Point hike begins on the eastern flank of the Eagle Creek Campground, which is located behind the fish hatchery on Eagle Creek. The only access to Eagle Creek is from the west, traveling east, and existing Interstate 84 just as you exit the Toothrock Tunnel, a miles east of the Bonneville Dam exit.

There isn't a parking place designated for this hike, so one will have to park in the Eagle Creek TH parking. Obviously, one would want to park as close to the Eagle Creek Campground as you can, not way over at the trail head that leads up Eagle Creek itself.

To find the trail head to this hike, begin walking up the road that leads to the campground. Soon you will come to a sign indicating Gorge Trail with Buck Point trail listed as 2/10 of a mile. Follow this trail, which will gently climb along the northwest side of the campground area. Soon, a protective fence lines the trail on the north side. As you walk along this fence, you will come to a sign embedded in the fence announcing that you are on Trail 400. Immediately to your right, you will see a user trail leading into the camp area. Follow this trail, and turn left onto the paved campsite road. Follow this roadway east until you come to campsite 6. Follow the paved driveway into the next campsite, #5, and look to your left and you will see the trail with a well marked sign designating the trail to Buck Point.

The hike to Buck Point is a series of gentle switchbacks, leading you up over 500 feet in about a half mile. You will know that you have arrived when the trail breaks out into the open beneath the huge power lines. Follow the trail to the upper tree line and look back for the best views.

If you have the time and energy and are not concerned about extremely steep trails that are very difficult to navigate, you might want to continue following the trail another half mile to an exceptional overlook. I have labeled this place the Ruckle Ridge Overlook as the trail is actually the trail that goes all the way up Ruckle Ridge to Benson Plateau, where it intersects with the Ruckle Creek trail, and brings you back to the very place you started this adventure. However, I will leave that adventure for another trail report.

Nevertheless, if you decide to continue up to the overlook ridge, be extremely careful. The trail is very dangerous, steep, slippery and difficult to navigate under the best of conditions. Actually, I found that coming down was the hardest part of the adventure, and managed to fall once.

Buck Point

How to get there:

Coming from Portland, travel eastbound on I-84, and turn off at Exit #41. At the bottom of the ramp turn right. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of the road. You will go passed a footbridge (that takes hikers up to Wauna Viewpoint) as the road narrows to one lane. Continue a short ways to a large parking lot, parking only in designated spaces.

(Coming from the east, be aware, there is no westbound exit at Eagle Creek. You must continue on I-84 and get off at the Bonneville Dam exit, get back on the interstate and backtrack to exit #41.)

There are really a couple a major trailheads here. The Eagle Creek Trail starts at the end of the road. All of the Eagle Creek hikes start there. The Wauna Viewpoint Hike starts by crossing the suspension bridge. All of the other hikes start at the bridge, as well, but begin by walking away from the bridge up the campground road.

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