Latourell Falls Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Latourell Falls Trailhead
- End Point: Upper Latourell Falls
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Loop
- Distance: 2.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 520 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
- Seasons: Year round except during winter storms
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
Latourell Falls is the closest of the Columbia Gorge waterfalls to Portland. It's just barely visible from the highway, but a short jaunt up a steep paved path leads to a clear viewpoint. A walk down a different path leads to the base of the falls. Latourell Falls, a 249' plunge, is beautiful in all seasons. In the summer, the water flow is very low, creating near misty conditions. In the winter, the splash freezes everywhere.
The most interesting hike is a 2.4 mile loop visiting Latourell Falls, Upper Latourell Falls and Guy Talbot Park. Beginning from the Latourell Falls Trailhead, follow the paved viewpoint trail up to the viewpoint. From there, a dirt path leads away to the left, steeply around the basin. Look for side views of the falls, particularly in the winter, when the trees have lost their leaves. The trail climbs for about 1/3 of a mile to a bench at the top of the falls. There's a side trail here that drops down to an unimproved log that functions as a bridge of sorts. This side trail shortcuts the loop, shaving about a mile from the trip.
The main trail continues southward beside the creek. The trail here is rocky in places and the undergrowth next to the trail is very thick, blocking most views in the summer. The trail crosses four pleasant, small wooden bridges and then comes to Upper Latourell Falls. This waterfall is a two tiered drop, first a block fall that's almost hidden and then a plunge into a pool. The trail crosses Latourell Creek at the base of the falls and heads back down the west side of the creek.
Past the log "bridge", the trail comes to a bench overlooking a rock point. It's obvious that many people venture past a cable and out on to this point, but it's equally obvious that one false step or gust of wind will plummet those people 249 feet down to the splash pool. The main trail climbs to another bench at a viewpoint that's overgrown with new fir trees. Then the trail slabs down the ridge to the Highway.
Hikers can return to the trailhead by hiking across the bridge, but there's more trail fun to be had. Across the road, there's an old set of stairs that start a trail dropping down into Guy Talbot Park. Guy Talbot is the man that owned Latourell Falls. The trail drops down to a parking area with picnic tables. From there another paved trail head back under the highway bridge to the base of Latourell Falls. The bridge, dating from 1914 is interesting in its own right, with special lightweight construction due to the instable soils in the area. At the falls, the lichen covered columnar basalt formations around the falls steal the show. From here, it's a short, paved, uphill hike to the lot.
- Maps: Hike Finder
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Guidebooks that cover this hike
- Day Hike! Columbia Gorge, by Seabury Blair, Jr.
- Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
- 35 Hiking Trails, Columbia River Gorge, by Don & Roberta Lowe
- Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe
- Hiking the Columbia River Gorge - 1st and 2nd Editions, by Russ Schneider
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon - 3rd Edition, by William L Sullivan
See more information at
- Short loop at NWHiker
- Loop including Upper Latourell Falls at NWHiker
- Lewis and Clark's Columbia River (history)
- Stevefromdodge (creator)