Trip Report: Latourell Falls Loop Hike
Location: Latourell Falls
Conditions: Dry and Sunny
Duration: One hour.
Kid Friendly: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Usefull links: oregonhikers.org
Latourell Falls is a short, easy hike less than an hour from Portland. To get to the trailhead drive east up the Columbia River Gorge. The loop is 2.4 miles, friendly to kids and dogs, and provides great views of the falls. It can be less crowded than some of the other hikes along the Gorge. The hike begins at the Latourell Falls Trailhead just off I-84. The parking lot wasn’t that crowded when I arrived, although it was a weekday morning.
The payoff is immediate, as you can see the falls from the parking lot. There is a staircase that allows for different viewpoints from this area. Begin by hiking up a well-maintained trail with a handrail on one side if needed. You get good views of the falls off to your right as you climb. One stretch was a little muddy and slippery, but otherwise, the hike is easy going. After half an hour or so you descend briefly to the base of the falls. In cooler temperatures, I’ve heard this area can be icy and I can see why. But on a February day, it was 43 degrees and I didn’t encounter any ice. The highest elevation of the whole hike is 620 feet, so there wasn’t any snow, either.
Once at the base of the falls you can explore, hike behind the falls a bit, or just look up and enjoy the sound of the rushing water. To complete the loop continue in the direction you’re hiking, the trail takes you up and away from the falls, climbing a bit to a lookout point. There is no railing here, so be careful if you venture toward the edge. From this elevation you can see the gorge and river through the trees. Descend down to the road and make your way back to the parking lot.
Nearby are the Overlook Loop and Bridal Veil Falls trails. At ½ a mile and ⅔’s of a mile respectively, I would suggest doing these hikes as well. Overlook Loop provides great views of the Gorge and Bridal Veil Falls, while not as tall as Latrouell Falls, are still enjoyable to look at and the hike along the water is nice. The end of the Bridal Fall trail is somewhat steep, so some folks might consider hiking back the way they came if not inclined to hike up. There are picnic tables at the park inside the loop, making this a great place to stop for lunch before continuing your adventure.