Latourell Falls is the closest of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls to Portland and is #99 on waterfallsnorthwest.com’s Top 100 Waterfalls of the Northwest. Beautiful any time of year, we visited in fall when the leaves were in color, and it was truly gorgeous. (By the way, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “gorge” and “gorgeous” share the same base word. “Gorgeous” describes the Gorge quite perfectly.)
You can view the falls from the parking lot of Guy Talbot State Park, take a short hike to the base of the falls, and/or catch a side view from the trail to Upper Latourell Falls.
The trail starts off rather steep, but it doesn’t stay that way for long. There are a handful of spurs off the trail that I assume lead to the creek; we took one on the far side of the upper falls and found ourselves looking down the massive cliff over which Latourell plunges – a spot that calls for extreme caution but offers magnificent views of the surrounding hills.
Upper Latourell would be a great waterfall even if it were on its own trail and shouldn’t be overlooked just because of the proximity of the more spectacular waterfall downstream. Both waterfalls have bridges across the stream at their bases, and both offer the option of scrambling around the edges of the splash pools or wading into the water. All things considered, this hike is a must for waterfall enthusiasts.
My rating: Must-see / favorite (4 stars)
(Waterfall – 4 stars, Trail – 4 stars, Experience – 3 stars)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour drive east
Nearest town: Corbett
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: 2.4 miles (The trailhead has a very helpful map outlining several different hiking options if you don’t want to walk the full 2.4 miles.)
Best season to visit: Any, but side views might be blocked in summer when the trees are full of leaves.
Things to know: The full hike calls for either crossing the Historic Highway or walking a short distance on the side of the highway, so it’s probably not a great choice for families with preschoolers.
Consider combining this trip with: If you’re up for a windy drive up the mountain, take the Historic Highway west and stop at the Vista House at Crown Point. The views are spectacular! This hike is a good stand-alone trip, but it could be combined with any hike in the Gorge if you want. The closest trip is Bridal Veil Falls.
Toilet / Amenities: Toilets, picnic tables, and a drinking fountain are available at Guy Talbot State Park.
How to get there:
- From I-84, take the Bridal Veil exit (#28).
- Drive west on the Historic Highway 3.4 miles to the trailhead.
- Look at the map to decide how you would like to approach the waterfalls.
- The 2.4 mile loop begins by taking the paved trail to the left up to a viewpoint of Latourell Falls.
- Continue on the dirt path a little less than a mile to Upper Latourell Falls.
- Cross the bridge and continue on the trail back to the Historic Highway.
- At this point, you can return to the trailhead via the highway or cross the highway and look for a set of stairs that drops down to a paved path on the right. The path will take you under the bridge to the base of Latourell Falls and back up to the trailhead.
- If you returned to the trailhead via the highway, take the time to walk the short distance down to the base of Latourell Falls and then return the same way.