Understanding how bacteria move close to surfaces is crucial for a broad range of microbial processes including biofilm formation, bacterial dispersion, and pathogenic infections. We used digital holographic microscopy to capture a large number (>10(3)) of three-dimensional Escherichia coli trajectories near and far from a surface. We found that within 20 μm from a surface tumbles are suppressed by 50% and reorientations are largely confined to surface-parallel directions, preventing escape of bacteria from the near-surface region. A hydrodynamic model indicates that the tumble suppression is likely due to a surface-induced reduction in the hydrodynamic force responsible for the flagellar unbundling that causes tumbling. These findings imply that tumbling does not provide an effective means to escape trapping near surfaces.