Latourell Falls, OR
Heading East from Portland is like a journey to another world. Hop on the highway, through the overpasses and passed the outlets, and you'll notice all civilization quickly fades. The Columbia River enters the scene, picking you up and taking you into the gorge where so much beautiful nature and adventure awaits. Sometimes we drive East and just go the with flow, curious as to where we'll end up. The mountains grow bolder and bigger, yet the river seems to cut right through. Rising out of the river the Earth takes on rugged forms, staggering high and almost looming, or at least peering down to say "hi."
Exit 22 off Highway 84 allows a chance to cruise along the ridges of these mystery mountains via the Historic Columbia River Highway. The road winds through lush lands and hugs the cliffside as you navigate your way through. A couple vistas kick off the tour - the first being Chanticleer Point, followed by the Vista House on Crown Point. Both a close drive to one another, and both well worth a visit. It's the perfect viewpoint to the gateway that is the gorge and also a good spot to stop for the sunset on your way out.
The highway continues through the lush overgrown forest and leads to the small historic town of Latourell, followed by Latourell Falls Trailhead, which includes two falls and a 2.5 mile loop hike. Parking on the side of the road and taking about 20 steps allows you to see the most impressive waterfall - Lower Latourell Falls - with water plunging over moss-grown basalt formations. The coolest part of Oregon and the Mt. Hood region is the snapshot your surroundings give you into it's wild history. You can literally see distinctly different lava flows from ancient times that together form these undulating rocky formations.
You can either start the hike going uphill from the main waterfall viewing point, or you can descend the steps by the bridge and start at the base of the falls. If you go that way there's a path that follows the creek down and leads to Guy W. Talbot State Park, a lush picnic area overgrown with flowers and dandelion fields. The trick is to park down at the park because most people don't know it's there, and do the hike from there. Then you can have a picnic after and enjoy!!
The trail takes you up the mountain, across the road, and on a climb through the most beautiful forest. Once you get to the ridge there's a quick vista moment, then you merge with the river. This is when things get really mossy and sparkly . . . I was in heaven! The trees toward around and encapsulate the area, loosely covered layers of moss, fresh with spray from the river.
The sun was shining bright that day and seemed to shimmer through the leaves. We still stand and take a pause every time the sun hits our face - the "Portland Freeze," as Brad's Dad so appropriately calls it. The PNW weather is so ever-changing, constantly evolving from moment to moment - bright sun and a cool breeze quickly turns to shade and muggy warmth, and then back through a chilly shady cloudy hue, always a surprise and fostering the oasis that is this region. And that, my friends, is why Oregon is a nature lovers DREAM.
upper latourell falls
ever been hugged by a tree?
Lower Latourell Falls
"If ever life gives you an opportunity to stand behind a waterfall,
you stand behind that waterfall."
- Brad Baskind (MY HERO)
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting lost on the back country roads of the Gorge, dreaming of the cabins we could one day build. We also (sadly) kept running into road blocks, warning of the charred destruction and remains from the fire last summer. In case you didn't know, the Eagle Creek fire devastated the Gorge about a year ago, and started a week after we arrived to Oregon . . . I know! What the heck!! It doesn't seem fair. I am not lying or exaggerating when I say one of the main reasons we moved to Portland was because of the Gorge. All I can hope is that between the climate and the natural forces of mother nature, these forests are able to heal and repair and open themselves back up to the world . . . sometime in the near future . . . ? Supposedly they will start slowly opening trails this summer, but at what rate they aren't sure and what condition I can only speculate. With Summer fast approaching, maybe say a little prayer for us?
Ending the day at Chanticleer Point, it brought all the wonder of the day into perspective. It's a panorama that wraps up all the beauty of the gorge into the perfect cliffside view, with lush green forests, the wide flowing river, a dynamic cliff line, and those ever swirling skies. It clearly is no question that the Gorge is thriving - maybe not all parts, but absolutely as a whole.
And that is where I'll leave you my friends. Latourell Falls, a quick 30 min. escape from the city and into a natural wonderland that satisfies all the senses. The perfect refresh that fills to the brim. Our new favorite go-to hike.
See you next time,
xoxo, Tent Girl