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Hike of the month: Latourell Falls Loop

This trail in the Columbia River Gorge takes less than two hours and offers views of two waterfalls, interesting geological structures, and PNW forest habitat.

A single-plunge waterfall cascades over a gray rock cliff partly covered with bright yellow-green moss and framed by tree foliage.

Latourell Falls is unique among the Gorge’s waterfalls because it takes a straight, uninterrupted plunge to the bottom.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

What is your idea of a perfect waterfall hike in the Columbia River Gorge? If you said under a few miles with gentle ups and downs, scenic overlooks, aromatic forests, and, of course, majestic waterfalls (the more the merrier) — then the Latourell Falls Loop is a trail you’re destined to fall in love with. Here are some details to help you plan your visit.

Quick facts

  • Starting point: Latourell Falls Trailhead
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Route type: Loop
  • Elevation gain: 620 ft
  • Trail surface: Dirt and ~0.3 mile of uneven pavement
  • Wheelchair accessible: Only at the trailhead and nearby viewpoint
  • Open: Year-round
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash

Brief overview

Parking is free in the small, paved lot at the trailhead. There are also restrooms and a few picnic tables. Whether you take the trail clockwise or counterclockwise, you’ll get immediate views of Latourell Waterfall as it plunges 224 ft over a dramatic wall of columnar basalt. The trail follows Latourell Creek into a small canyon where you’ll find Upper Latourell Falls.

A slideshow of images from a forested hike showing the underside of a vaulted bridge, wild blueberries, Columbia lily, an arched maple tree, and waterfalls.

Keep your eyes peeled for Columbia lily, wild blueberries and salmonberries, and a living archway.

Photos by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Why you should try it

With under 1,000 ft in elevation gain and often uncrowded conditions, this is an ideal introductory trail to the Gorge’s waterfall corridor. Two picturesque falls, one panoramic viewpoint, multiple footbridge crossings, lush vegetation (including seasonal wildflowers and berries), geological wonders, and trailhead amenities make for an unforgettable if not lengthy hike.

Pro tips

You can hike the loop either direction, but going clockwise (starting up the steps near the picnic tables) means you’ll get most of the elevation gain knocked out right away. Watch for stinging nettles leaning into the trail. Park at Lower Guy Talbot State Park if the trailhead lot is full.

Let us know

Did you try this hike? Do you know of one we should check out? Send us your thoughts and recommendations — or check out our other monthly hiking guides.

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