Trail Talk: Latourell Fall

Location: Latourell Falls (Corbett, Oregon: The Columbia River Gorge)

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.4 Mile Loop (The map on site and several websites listed it at 2.4. When I hiked this with a friend we both recorded on separate tracking systems, Suunto and Garmin, and recorded it at 3 miles)

Elevation: 520 ft

Cost: FREE

Parking: There is small paved lot right at the trail head. There is extra parking across the street as well as extra parking across the bridge (just passed the paved lot), both are off the side of the road.

Directions:

Traveling east on I-84, take Exit #28/Bridal Veil. Sharp right onto Historic Columbia River Highway and travel for 3 miles. The parking lot will be on the left.

Traveling west on I-84, take Exit #35/Ainsworth. Drive 11 miles west on the Historic Columbia River Highway. The parking lot will be on the right side. EXTRA: if you take this exit you will get to drive past the Vista House viewpoint.

Preparation:

  • Water.
  • Shoes/Clothes. This trail can be muddy if it’s just rained so bring shoes with good traction that you are ready to get dirty.
  • Sunscreen. Its a good combo of tree covering and open air, its the NW so its often cloudy and overcast but as always sunscreen is always a great idea!
  • Bathroom. There is a small building for restrooms but they are currently closed due to Covid so I wasn’t able to check how decent they were.
  • Dogs. Allowed on leash.
  • Extras: there is a picnic area to rent at Guy Talbot State Park (which has more parking options and an alternate trial head)
  • THIS PARK IS EXPERIENCING MORE THAN NORMAL TRAFFIC WITH THE PANDEMIC, BE READY TO WEAR A MASK MOST OF THE TIME.
Lower Falls – Lower View Point

Experience:

I went and enjoyed these beautiful falls with my best friend, Blake. It was the first hike I did as an official resident of the PNW again, and the perfect start to what I hope is a beautiful outdoor experience here. When we pulled up I snapped a picture of the map that was easily visible at the trailhead and we set off heading to the right, down to the base of the lower falls. It looked like we chose the less busy direction as most people head to the left up to the top of the lower falls and continuing from there to the upper falls. I noticed very few people completing the full loop, most choosing the quickest way to the falls and retracing their steps. This left us a nice empty trail on the right side of the loop despite the busy trailhead.

Columbia River Gorge (view point)

Once you leave the lower falls viewpoint you will cross under the bridge and come across the picnic area (for rent, see preparation section above) before climbing back up the road. Once you cross the road you will continue your uphill ascent. After about 20-30 minutes and a couple of switch backs you reach a beautiful viewpoint of the gorge. It was a great place to stop and catch our breath . The weather cleared up to blue sky just for us and opened up to a beautiful view, before raining again as soon as we left to continue our journey.

Soon you will come parallel to the river and even be able to see the trail on the other side. Follow along the river to the upper falls. There’s enough of a path you can get up along side the falls (but not underneath it) if you want to rest and explore the site from a different angle. We did this hike in early February, and it had been raining so not only was it muddy (be careful!), the water was also a lot higher compared to the summer months (according to my hiking partner Blake who had done this hike before!). Once you get your fill cross a small bridge and then continue back on the other side of the river. Most of this will be a decent.

Close to the end of the trail you will reach the overlook at the top of the lower falls, there is a bench here if you wanted a longer pause before finishing. Then itss a short steep jaunt back to the beginning of the trail. At the beginning of the trail head, on this side, is an additional deck built out overlook for another angle on the falls.

Just come for Latourell Falls or make a day of it and visit the others nearby too! On the same road you will find the trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls, Coopley Falls, Wahkeena Falls, before reaching the infamous Multnomah Falls. All within 22 minutes of each other. Besides for Multnomah which I haven’t been to in over a decade these are all new to me, I will be covering all of these in the upcoming months. If there is any you would like for me to cover first please shoot me a message!

Waterfalls in Depth:

The falls were named after Joseph Latourell, who was prominent settler from the area. The Talbot Family then owed the Falls and are around it and in 1929 gave it to the state of Oregon. Hence the name of the State Park.

The Upper Fall is double tiered, and 134 feet of falling water. The Lower Falls is actually the largest of the two at 225 feet.

Happy Roaming!

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