Looking for a quieter, less crowded but still beautiful Columbia Gorge hike in Oregon? Check out Latourell Falls Loop along the Columbia River Gorge Highway in Oregon.
Some days, you just want to escape. Like right now, when, say, you're on Snow/Ice Day #9 of the school year, and you've been stuck inside with your children for 7 days straight and there's yet ANOTHER crazy ice storm headed your way tonight.
But, I digress. That's another story for another day.
There are other times when you just need to get outside and de-stress. You want an easy hike through a gorgeous Pacific Northwest forest that doesn't require excessive planning, gear, or sweating.
You want someplace that gels with a get-up-and-go-RIGHT-NOW attitude. A place you can easily get to from Portland in a flash. Someplace that showers you with lots of gorgeous scenery for stress-free headspace.
The Latourell Falls Loop is an excellent option for these types of days. In fact, it's one of my favorite Columbia Gorge hikes.
Latourell Falls Loop
Driving along the picturesque Historic Columbia River Highway, just 30 miles (about a 40-minute drive) east of Portland, Oregon, you'll find Latourell Falls. From Highway 84, take Exit 28 and follow the signs to Latourell Falls and Guy Talbot State Park.
There are two options for you to enjoy the easy, beautiful hike of the Latourell Falls Loop. It's a family-friendly, 2.5 mile (round trip) loop that makes for a fun day hike.
The Loop: Option 1
The first and easiest option is to park at Guy Talbot State Park, located right off the Historic Columbia River Highway.
From the parking lot, follow the trail leading downward to the lower falls. This quick .25 mile hike takes you to the bottom of the falls where you are gifted with the most spectacular waterfall views.
I've lived here on & off for 40 years and I never tire of the abundance of Oregon waterfalls. They're all so beautiful - and there are so many of them!
During the hot summer months, there can be some foot traffic by the lower falls, but it's still less crowded than most other waterfall trails I have experienced in the summer.
Once you've enjoyed the view, you can hike back the same way you came down. It's an excellent option if you are taking visitors who aren't big regular hikers and want to experience Oregon's beauty.
You can pack a picnic and enjoy it either at the lower falls (there are a few small spots for small groups of 1-4 people to gather). Or, the parking lot at Guy Talbot State Park has a small picnic area with a few tables, and restrooms.
I stopped here as part of a small group on a recent trip with Travel Oregon.
Laurelhurst Market Executive Chef Ben Bettinger and his adorable wife Andrea joined us, and they brought incredible, mouthwatering sandwiches for everyone to enjoy. I had the crispy chicken sandwich which was AMAZING! Perfectly tender, juicy chicken with a buttery, crispy coating, and tasty housemade slaw. So good, and great for a quick day hike!
The loop: option 2
After our picnic, we decided to check out the upper falls, another great Columbia Gorge hike.
If you want to take a bit of a longer Columbia Gorge hike that is still easy and not too strenuous, you can take the longer 1.2 mile hike to the upper falls. Simply follow the path from Guy Talbot State Park on the left to walk uphills. There are a few narrow spots and rocky areas on this path that might make it scary/tricky for really little kids or for elder adventurers. But it's a fairly easy hike for the average adult and most kids.
Have you been to Latourell Falls? What's your favorite smaller waterfall hike where you live?
This hike was part of a Travel Oregon Hood/Gorge press trip. The lunch was provided complimentary of Laurelhurst Market. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.