Total Miles: 2.5
Flights Climbed: 42
Since the wilderness has been calling me back lately, I might as well keep up with the trail reports as I get myself back into hiking shape. Upper Latourell Falls is a perfect, quick hike to get in some hill climbs!
Mapping out trails to hike alone, especially as a female, I try to choose ones that I know will have multiple hikers on them. That way, if something does go wrong, you can shout and have a good chance of someone hearing you.
The Columbia Gorge waterfalls are almost always an excellent choice for this. However, at this time, many are still closed due to the horrible fire that ripped through there last year. But my favorite one, Latourell, was untouched. I knew there was a trail to the bottom of the main falls, and one to the park just across the highway, but I wanted something longer and would challenge my horribly out of shape self. That is when I found out that there is an upper fall to Latourell! Hooray!
I dropped my daughter off to school, packed up my bag, leashed up Solo (our rescue pup) and headed down the old Columbia River Highway. Taking the Corbett exit, you wind along the road east and get gorgeous views of the valley and see the old, original concrete and rock guardrail of this century-old road.
Crossing over a concrete bridge the parking lot is on the North side of the road. The park down on the south side of the road is a beautiful spot to eat a picnic lunch before, or after your adventure. There is a quick view of the lower trail, and you can see the incredible height of the main attraction, Latourell Falls.
To the left of the signpost, there is a gravel trail that takes a steep incline. That’s the one you want. Just a little bit up that trail is a viewpoint of the big fall. Then, back UP the path you go. It climbs steadily and winds along the hillside of the valley below. There are gr great views up to this first portion of the trail. Another plus of a pup that loves to hike, he helps pull me up the path to keep going, especially if there’s a sighting of a squirrel.
Once you get to the top of the main falls, it flattens a bit and winds along the creek. So relaxing in there with the sounds of the forest, surrounded by trees, with a flowing stream beside you. There are a few small wooden footbridges, and then back up it climbs again. Nothing too steep. About a mile back, you get a view of the Upper Latourell.
I would compare it to a mixture of Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail. It twists at the top and then leads out to a horsetail. This angle is the only one that you can get that shows the entire waterfalls without being obstructed by the rock.
Across the footbridge you can get to the waterfall itself if you liked, there was enough spray that I cooled off pretty quickly. My camera and tripod came out for some shots. With the ND filter on, I could get a 2-second shot to blur the water just how I like it. With a dog attached to me, I could only get a few shots in before he wanted to start going again.
You could go back the way you came, but I was still feeling good, so we followed the trail to see where it would lead us.
The path went….uphill. We climbed to this view of the river with a bench to relax. Which was a perfect spot for Solo and me to catch up and drink some water. From this point, it drops back down the mountain. I definitely recommend shoes/boots and to watch your step, especially if it has recently rained. Bare rock and mud, combined with steep elevation can cause some slipping.
There is this awesome split tree along the way as well.
The trail back down was a little over a mile as it ends up putting you a little west of the main parking lot. Be careful when you exit the trail, it puts you directly onto the Old Highway. The road is narrow, has tons of blind curves, and people speed pretty frequently on it.
You could head back to your car here OR do what we did, which was take the nice lower trail to the foot of Latourell. This is a beautiful, easy trail to cool down and enjoy the magnificent sight.
The trail loops to the waterfall and then back on the other side on the creek. It will take you down to the old town of Latourell. There is a cool history to the area which you can read here. The town itself has a few residents still and some old homesteads. The park down there is a lovely spot to eat a picnic lunch before, or after your adventure. Substantial old shade trees grow and there is lots of open grass to run any remaining energy you have, out.
Latourell can be a very popular trail, especially since the other gorge trails are closed. I arrived at the trailhead at 8 am and got a quick spot. By the time I was ready to get out of there, the parking was overflowing into the town below. Arrive early if you don’t like crowds!
All in all, a great little outing to get myself use to more hill climbing. I am hoping to possibly tackle either Hamilton Mountain or Dog Mountain by the time the summer ends.
Now I am off to photograph more weddings and plan my next outing.