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!

Trail Talk: Hedge Creek Falls

Location: Hedge Creek Falls (Dunsmuir, CA)

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: Less than a mile round trip, out and back trail. About a quarter mile to the falls.

Elevation: Roughly 200 feet. (My Suunto watch recorded 150 but other sites listed 200).

Cost: FREE

Parking: There is a long, undefined lot directly across from the park.

Directions: This trail can be reached from either direction on I-5. Take the exit for Siskiyou Ave.

From the north: After the exit pass under the freeway and turn right onto Dunsmuir Ave.

From the south: After taking the exit take two rights.

It will be a quick right onto the small road and the parking is directly on the right. When I went I missed the turn, but was able to adjust quickly using the parking lot of a business (Castle Rock Water) directly past the correct street for a quick U-Turn. Dunsmuir Ave is also named Mott Rd.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. There is a water fountain at the top.
  • Shoes/Clothes. If you are going when its warmer, I would recommend a sandal/shorts combo so you can enjoy dipping into the pool below the falls. I did the whole trail in flip flops without a problem.
  • Bathroom. There was one porta potty at the top of the parking. I didn’t use it and am not sure what its condition is. I would not recommend counting on this stop to be your bathroom breath.

Experience:

Once parked I head across the street to the little park. There is a small grassy area with a few picnic tables, a gazebo with benches, and a fun water fountain. As I was starting the trail a family was settling in for a picnic lunch. The trail head is directly past the gazebo. The trail for the most part is clear, there is a small stream that appears to be routed under the trail and a few rockslides to step over. There was also a decent amount of poison oak off the trail but again the trail itself was clear. At the first switchback you are able to see the small but mighty falls and after a few more minutes you will already be to its base.

Hedge Creek Falls: For a short clip of me walking behind the falls scroll to the bottom!

The base of the falls is really special. There are a lot of larger rocks surrounding it for a nice area to spread out and enjoy. The water form the falls also pools into a great little shallow swimming hole before continuing along the creek. Be aware the whole area is pretty small and would get crowded quickly. If you are looking for a great place of water to enjoy for an extended period of time this might not be the most enjoyable. My favorite part is that there is a small cave carved out behind the falls and the trail takes you around and behind Hedge Creek Falls. Its such a unique view.

If you continue past the falls there is a bench which will allow you to admire the scene from afar. Continue down the trail that parallels Hatch Creek to a nice sized observation deck. From the deck you get a good view of Mount Shasta and the Sacramento river. She just peeked through the trees and below the clouds for me on this day.

Mount Shasta from Hedge Creek Falls Trail Overlooking Sacramento River

At this point the trail sharply turns back into an additional switch back that will take you down to the banks of the Sacramento river. Along this path is also great views of some mini falls and waterslides from Hedge Creek. At the Sacramento river I had read there was a swimming hole and a good shallow area. The water was a bit high when I went and I wasn’t able to clearly see where this spot would be but I would assume later in the season it would be a great place.

View of the Sacramento River from the end of the trail.

All in all I had a great time. With its short length and easy access from the highway it’s a great spot to stop if you are just passing through. Better than a random rest stop to stretch your legs and refresh before continuing through the mountains. I used it as just that on a long road trip starting in Monterey, CA and ending for the night in Medford, OR.

Happy Roaming!

Walking behind Hedge Creek Falls