LATOURELL FALLS LOOP
MAY 24, 2012
Info: Taken from the Friends of the Columbia Gorge website (http://gorgefriends.org/display.php?modin=51&uid=4886) Beginning from the Latourell Falls Trailhead, follow the paved viewpoint trail up to the viewpoint. From here, a dirt path leads away to the left, steeply around the basin. Look for side views of the falls, particularly in the winter, when the trees have lost their leaves. The trail climbs for about 1/3 of a mile to a bench at the top of the falls.
The main trail continues southward beside the creek. The trail here is rocky in places and the undergrowth next to the trail is very thick, blocking most views in the summer. The trail crosses four pleasant, small wooden bridges and then comes to Upper Latourell Falls. This waterfall is a two tiered drop: first a block fall that’s almost hidden and then a plunge into a pool. The trail crosses Latourell Creek at the base of the falls and heads back down the west side of Henderson creek. Follow the trail to the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Hikers can return to the trailhead by hiking across the bridge, but there’s more trail fun to be had. Across the road, there’s an old set of stairs that start a trail dropping down into Guy Talbot Park. The trail drops down to a parking area with picnic tables. From here another paved trail heads back under the highway bridge to the base of Latourell Falls. The bridge, dating from 1914, is interesting in its own right, with special lightweight construction due to the unstable soils in the area. At the falls, the lichen-covered columnar basalt formations around the falls steal the show. From here, it’s a short, paved, uphill hike to the parking lot.
Directions: From Portland, drive east on I-84 to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Turn Right on the Historic Highway and drive 2.8 miles to the Latourell Falls Parking lot on the left. From the east, take exit 35 (Ainsworth Park). Drive 10.8 miles west on the Historic Highway to the same lot.
Jenn’s View: Since this was the only “TRUE” hike I did, I really enjoyed this one. It was about 2+ miles round trip and I think I took a wrong turn somewhere because I didn’t end up at the parking lot that I originally started in. I wasn’t too far off though :). Great hike for the family. I saw little tiny kids on the trail. They have this rated as moderate and I would have to agree at the beginning of the trail. It does “SLOWLY” climb up so not too hard or strenuous. Meaning, slow elevation gain. Take the kids and the dogs! Dogs must be on a leash. I didn’t get great pictures. The lighting was off – too much sun. The best place that I had a blast taking pictures was Bridal Veil. I am soooo not a professional or even an amateur, I just take pics to add to the blogs.
From the parking lot, you climb up the paved path to a viewing area of Latourell Falls. Talked to a family who had a young German Shepherd and three kids. One of the kids bent down in front of Shadowlynn’s face and my dog jumped up to either lick her or just “bonk” her on her nose. I was busy talking with the mom and not paying attention to her little girl. Gave her a bloody nose and felt soooo bad!
Please please please, educate your children on the importance of NOT going up to a dog without owner’s consent or without owner’s supervision. OR bending down and being eye level to a stranger’s dog.
(BTW, the”professional picture above to the right here was not taken by me. It is from the Friends of the Columbia Gorge website)
From the viewpoint, there is a trail that starts the slow climb up. I think that was probably the hardest part of the trail besides all the deep mud puddles you encounter on the trail.
I came to the falls and loved how “neon green” the moss was next to the water. Had to take a picture, of course.
Climbing up the hill, I saw a couple of people on this log taking pictures of the river/creek/stream so I patiently waited my turn and got on that log. It freaked me out because it was quite slippery and my stupid dog kept running back and forth on the log with me on it! She has absolutely no manners and will knock you off first chance she gets because you are in HER way.
I didn’t get any good shots from this bridge, probably because I wouldn’t walk all the way across fearing my dog would knock me off. Here is what I managed to get. Nothing spectacular.
Hiked up a bit more and decided to stop and eat my Subway Sammich. MMMM yummy… 9 grain Honey Oat with Turkey and cheddar cheese. Add spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos, a little bit of mayo and mustard and got myself a awesome lunch. Shared the meat with Shadowlynn, of course. While sitting there, I heard a crack and large branches from the tree next to me fell. Didn’t hurt me or the dog but that was our cue to go. Came to the first bridge of the hike. You encounter a few.
It was so muddy on the trail. My poor shoes. Someone asked me (Scott’s Aunt Cathy) what shoes I normally wear and for the love of God, I couldn’t remember. Probably because I was nervous meeting the family for the first time. They are KEENS! That’s right! Need to do a product review on those babies here soon. I didn’t get a shot of the little cascading stream at the bridge. I figure I get enough of those. LOL
We finally get to the upper part and we have Upper Latourell Falls. Real pretty but the spray from the water and the amount of people on the trail made it quite difficult to get a shot.
I moved further down and across the bridge but someone with a camera/tripod was out taking pictures. He was patiently awaiting for people to pass. Nice equipment but I think he gave up to trying to take a picture of this fall. He kept wiping his camera lens.
While I was waiting for the people to pass, I found a little stream and started taking pictures.
Heading down, I found these flowers I would love to add to my potted plants. Not really sure what they are but they awfully pretty. While going down, I came to a fork in the road. I did take the path to the right thinking I would end at the bottom path and back to the highway, but I swore that path ended so I climbed back up and took the other path. Hmmm…It was a bigger path! Every now and then you would get a break in the tree line so you can see the Gorge but the trees are pretty big that it was hard to see. Like I said at the beginning, I didn’t end up at the parking lot. I did however end up NEAR the parking lot, close to the bridge.
Overall, I think this hike was pretty nice. We got a great break from the winter weather we have been having to enjoy and soak up the sun. Even though my allergies were killing me, I still had a marvelous time!