The Latourell Falls have the distinction of being the closest major Gorge falls to the city of Portland. The 2.4 mile, family friendly trail that leads to these very photogenic falls is one of the most accessible and worthwhile hikes in the Columbia River Gorge area.
The 224-foot Latourell Falls, which tumbles over an eroded lave flow, is among the most accessible and beautiful in the Columbia River Gorge. The whole loop is only 2.4 miles, and it rewards hikers with views of the waterfall, lava flow, and surrounding greenery.
What Makes It Great
There is a 2.4-mile loop that begins on a dirt path to the left of the paved viewpoint path. After about .3 miles, there is a bench at the top of the falls and continues beside the creek. You will cross four bridges to get to Upper Latourell Falls, which is a beautiful two-teired waterfall. From here you will cross over Latourell Creek and you will come to a overlook bench. Continue on the trail and the trail heads down back down to the highway.
This cascade is also one of the best examples of columnar basalt in the region. The bridge near the bottom of the falls serves as more than just a photo op—it’s a great spot to observe visible evidence of the massive basalt lava flows that formed the region. The eroded lava flow that Latourell Creek tumbles over today shows off several layers of the honeycombed basalt, as well as unfathomably green colored lichens.
If you have a little bit of extra time, go across the road to an old set of stairs that will lead you to Guy Talbot Park, which is a parking area with picnic tables and a great spot for a picnic. From the park, there is a paved trail that goes under the highway and old, historic bridge to the base of Latourell Falls, which is a unique viewpoint that should not be overlooked.
For a delicious food and drink option, continue east on I-84 for a post-hike burger and shake at the East Wind Drive-In in Cascade Locks. It is certainly a time-honored Gorge post-hike tradition.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail is short and although it is steep in some places, it can be enjoyed by all. It is a great option for families with kids or inexperienced hikers who want to see what the gorge has to offer. It is a great short day and the falls will be impressive no matter the time of year.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Portland, drive east on I-84 to exit 28 for Bridal Veil and turn right on the Historic Highway. In 2.8 miles, you will get to the Latourell Falls parking lot, which will be on your left.