Latourell Falls is one of the top waterfall in the Colombia River Gorge.
Latourell Falls is two section waterfall that is located about 30 miles from Portland, Oregon. The lower falls is the more famous of the two and it is a picturesque waterfall that plunges unobstructed in a single drop of 249 feet. The lower falls is are visible from the parking lot but a better view can be seen by taking a very short trail to the base of the waterfall. The upper falls isn’t visible without hiking on the 2 mile loop trail.
The lower falls are the taller and more dramatic of the two, dropping from tall cliffs that are perennially covered in a yellowish lichen. The lower falls free-falls from the cliff edge to the waterfall base with no contact to the underlying cliff, making Latourell Falls unique from the other waterfalls in the gorge.
The waterfall base is just a short walk from the parking lot. At the waterfall base you can feel the mist created from the water that is pounding against the rubble of rocks that have fallen off the cliff.
Latourell Falls has two distinct features, the upper portion of the falls is highlighted with a yellowish colored lichen and the lower portion is showcased by a dark grey columnar basalt.
Lichens are a partnership of two separate organisms, a fungus and an alga. They grow on almost any undisturbed surface and can grow on bark, wood, rocks, glass, metal and plastic. They absorb water without the need for roots and are commonly found in foggy or moist environments.
Basalt columns are created by the cooling and contracting of lava which causes the ground to crack into long geometric columns.
The loop trail starts and ends near the base of the waterfall and is one of the easiest hikes in the Columbia River Gorge with only a 625 feet elevation gain and just a short 2.4 mile loop. It is a nice hike as the surrounding area is blanketed in lush green moss covered vegetation.
A Beautiful Waterfall
Latourell Falls is one of the most photogenic falls in the Colombia River Gorge. It is a tall single plunge waterfall that spills over the lip of an undercut cliff of tall pillars of columnar basalt. An attention grabbing splash of yellowish lichen covers the upper portion of the cliff behind the tumbling water that contrasts with the dark charcoal color of lower portion of the cliff.
Latourell Falls is a short drive from Portland that can be easily enjoyed by everyone. It can be seen from the parking lot and the base can be reached on a short trail. Taking the short loop trail is an easy hike for more active people.
I enjoy being near waterfalls and I particularly like waterfalls that are strikingly distinctive. The unique features of the yellowish lichen and the dark gray columnar basalt make this waterfall distinctive from all or the other waterfalls that I have experienced.
Latourell Falls is the kind of waterfall that everyone should want to visit because it is beautiful, it is easy to get to and it is very accessible!