Upper Latourell Falls

Columbia River Gorge / Guy W. Talbot State Park / Portland, Oregon, USA

About Upper Latourell Falls


Hiking Distance: 2.6 miles round-trip or 3.6-mile loop
Suggested Time: about 1-2 hours

Date first visited: 2021-04-06
Date last visited: 2021-04-06

Waterfall Latitude: 45.53071
Waterfall Longitude: -122.22066

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Upper Latourell Falls was kind of like the sibling waterfall to the much larger and well-visited Latourell Falls further downstream on Latourell Creek.

It featured a pair of drops that twisted away from the alcove that it dropped into with a cumulative height of around 75-100ft.

Latourell_Falls_149_04062021 - Upper Latourell Falls
Upper Latourell Falls

So compared to its bigger downstream neighbor, the Upper Latourell Falls was modest in size even.

That said, I’ve seen plenty of situations where waterfalls of this size would get more dedicated tourism infrastructure devoted to it, and some even get their own reserve!

Indeed, it just goes to show you how waterfall-rich the Columbia River Gorge is that a year-round waterfall of this size can feel neglected.

Nevertheless, I found that its relative obscurity (especially since it required a hike to reach) meant that this excursion offered a far more peaceful experience, which was especially important for social distancing.

Latourell_Falls_100_04062021 - Both tiers of the Upper Latourell Falls
Both tiers of the Upper Latourell Falls

In my mind, that tranquility and chance to be more intimate with the lush surroundings were the main appeal of pursuing the Upper Latourell Falls.

Hiking to the Upper Latourell Falls

Technically, visiting the Upper Latourell Falls can require as little as 2.6 miles round-trip in an out-and-back hike or as much as a 3.6 miles in a loop hike.

Since I did this hike in a clockwise loop (which is the direction I recommend for reasons that will be apparent later), this is the manner in which I’ll describe the experience in this section.

So starting off from the Guy W Talbot State Park parking lot (the same one for Latourell Falls; see directions below), I immediately went up a sloping path instead of the trail going down to Latourell Falls’ base.

Latourell_Falls_036_04062021 - The first landmark of interest on the clockwise loop trail for the Upper Latourell Falls is this elevated view of the Latourell Falls
The first landmark of interest on the clockwise loop trail for the Upper Latourell Falls is this elevated view of the Latourell Falls

After a few paces, I encountered an elevated lookout that allowed me to experience the “Lower” Latourell Falls in its entirety.

Often times, since this waterfall would get a lot of visitors, I tend to use them as photo subjects to convey the scale of its sheer drop.

Next, I continued uphill on the trail as it offered unusual views of Latourell Falls the further up the gorge that I went, especially where there was a rest bench.

Eventually after roughly a quarter-mile from the elevated lookout (or perhaps 0.3-mile from the parking lot), I reached another lookout with a partial view back towards the Columbia River Gorge.

Latourell_Falls_063_04062021 - Context of the ascending Upper Latourell Falls Loop as it proceeded past Latourell Falls
Context of the ascending Upper Latourell Falls Loop as it proceeded past Latourell Falls

Then, the trail veered upstream alongside the east bank of Latourell Creek as the path flattened out and gently undulated for the next 0.6-mile or so before reaching the Upper Latourell Falls.

Along the way, there was a path leading to Latourell Creek that seemed to go nowhere (just upstream from the lookout at the end of the initial climb), but I suspect there was a bridge washout.

My old trail maps suggested that had the bridge been there, it could have been a shorter loop hike though cutting the longer loop here would mean not visiting the Upper Latourell Falls.

At roughly a quarter-mile from the aforementioned spur trail to the bridge washout, I noticed that there was an intermediate cascade on Latourell Creek, which was referred to as “Clara Falls” on GoogleMaps.

Latourell_Falls_081_04062021 - Looking down at a cascade that GoogleMaps appears to have labeled as Clara Falls, which is on Latourell Creek
Looking down at a cascade that GoogleMaps appears to have labeled as Clara Falls, which is on Latourell Creek

Anyways, on the final approach to the Upper Latourell Falls, I was able to see most of both of its twisting drops.

As I got closer to the base of the waterfall, the upper tier became more hidden from view.

And when I made it to the footbridge fronting the base of the lower tier of the falls, the upper drop was completely hidden from view.

It’s for this reason that I recommend doing this loop hike in a clockwise manner so that you don’t have to look over your shoulder to notice that upper tier (possibly making you miss it entirely if you don’t keep your eyes peeled for it).

Latourell_Falls_092_04062021 - A satisfying look at the Upper Latourell Falls as I approached it during my clockwise loop hike
A satisfying look at the Upper Latourell Falls as I approached it during my clockwise loop hike

At this point, I had the option of turning back and making this the 2.6-mile out-and-back hike, but I opted to continue on past the footbridge to finish the loop.

By the way, there was also some informal use-trails just beyond the west side of the bridge leading into the alcove behind the lower drop of Upper Latourell Falls for a somewhat unusual view of this falls.

Completing the Upper Latourell Falls Loop

Continuing downstream along the west side of Latourell Creek, the trail made minor undulations though it generally seemed to be climbing on this side.

It got close to “Clara Falls” after around 0.4-mile from the footbridge, and it reached an unsigned fork right when the trail made another short climb roughly another quarter-mile further.

Latourell_Falls_168_04062021 - This is the unsigned junction where the lower path on the right leads to a precarious view on a knob right above the brink of the Latourell Falls
This is the unsigned junction where the lower path on the right leads to a precarious view on a knob right above the brink of the Latourell Falls

At this unsigned junction, the narrower lower path descended over some basalt columns towards a precarious bluff overlooking the brink of Latourell Falls, its associated trails and parking lot, and the Columbia River Gorge.

Since the dropoffs here were sheer vertical plunges, I had to be very careful not to make a misstep.

Continuing on with the loop trail, at another 0.1-mile, the trail reached its apex at a lookout right next to a sharp bend.

Again, this lookout with a bench yielded partially-overgrown views over the Columbia River Gorge, but it was high enough to reveal the wide Columbia River itself.

Latourell_Falls_199_04062021 - Looking towards a serene picnic area beneath the Historic Columbia River Highway
Looking towards a serene picnic area beneath the Historic Columbia River Highway

Then, the trail made a fairly lengthy descent over a run of about 0.5-mile as it surprisingly took me back to the Historic Columbia River Highway.

While I could choose to walk the road east directly back to the parking lot, the loop trail continued to descend on the other side of this road.

From there, the trail then skirted by a tranquil-looking picnic area before swinging back towards Latourell Creek underneath the arched bridge holding up the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Finally, the trail then followed the west side of Latourell Creek for the final quarter-mile or so before reaching the base of Latourell Falls from the other side of its fronting footbridge.

Latourell_Falls_204_04062021 - Looking back at the arch bridge holding up the Historic Columbia River Highway towards the end of the clockwise loop hike for the Upper Latourell Falls
Looking back at the arch bridge holding up the Historic Columbia River Highway towards the end of the clockwise loop hike for the Upper Latourell Falls

Not surprisingly, at this point, I saw many more people (more than the one hiker that I saw the entire time I did the rest of the Upper Latourell Falls Loop) as all that was left was the short jaunt beyond the footbridge back to the parking lot.

Overall, I spent a little under 2 hours doing this loop hike logging about 3.6 miles.

Authorities

Upper Latourell Falls resides in the Guy W. Talbot State Park, which is within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area near Portland in Multnomah County, Oregon. It is administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Latourell_Falls_035_04062021 - When embarking on the clockwise loop hike for the Upper Latourell Falls, it begins with this steep (and potentially slippery) climb from the parking lot
Latourell_Falls_051_04062021 - This is the familiar look at the entirety of Latourell Falls from that first lookout at the start of the Upper Latourell Falls Trail
Latourell_Falls_052_04062021 - Looking back at the parking lot. Funny story about this photo was that it was freezing on the morning of my hike (so much so that my hands were going numb), but you can see here that the dude going back to the lot was wearing nothing but a T-shirt and shorts!
Latourell_Falls_055_04062021 - Continuing beyond the first lookout, which starts to show the Latourell Falls in unusual angles
Latourell_Falls_056_04062021 - Context of the trail to Upper Latourell Falls (going clockwise) and Latourell Falls during the initial climb
Latourell_Falls_059_04062021 - Approaching a rest bench with a view back towards Latourell Falls near the top of the initial climb going clockwise on the Upper Latourell Falls Loop
Latourell_Falls_062_04062021 - Looking back at the profile of Latourell Falls from the Upper Latourell Falls Trail
Latourell_Falls_066_04062021 - The Upper Latourell Falls Loop makes a couple of switchbacks towards the top of its initial climb going clockwise
Latourell_Falls_068_04062021 - Partial look back towards the Columbia River Gorge from the apex of the initial climb going clockwise on the Upper Latourell Falls Loop hike
Latourell_Falls_069_04062021 - Context of the lookout at the apex of the initial climb going clockwise on the Upper Latourell Falls Loop
Latourell_Falls_070_04062021 - The Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail starting to go alongside Latourell Creek further upstream from the Latourell Falls
Latourell_Falls_073_04062021 - This cascade on Latourell Creek appeared to be at an apparent dead-end on a spur path that deviated from the Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail. I suspect that there used to be a bridge here to make for an even shorter loop hike, but it would avoid going to the upper waterfall had this option remain available
Latourell_Falls_079_04062021 - Context of the Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail and what I think might be Clara Falls in the distance on the lower right
Latourell_Falls_080_04062021 - Another contextual look at Clara Falls with the Upper Latourell Falls Loop
Latourell_Falls_082_04062021 - The Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail approaching some bridge over a side stream feeding Latourell Creek
Latourell_Falls_088_04062021 - The Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail continuing to skirt alongside Latourell Creek
Latourell_Falls_094_04062021 - Approaching Upper Latourell Falls and its impressive two-tiered drop
Latourell_Falls_098_04062021 - The closer I got to the Upper Latourell Falls, the less of its upper drop I was able to see
Latourell_Falls_112_04062021 - Looking up at the Upper Latourell Falls shortly before descending to the footbridge across its base
Latourell_Falls_125_04062021 - Looking back the lower drop of Upper Latourell Falls from the footbridge at its base
Latourell_Falls_130_04062021 - Looking back at the context of the footbridge and the lower drop of Upper Latourell Falls
Latourell_Falls_148_04062021 - Last look back at the Upper Latourell Falls before continuing on with the clockwise loop hike
Latourell_Falls_155_04062021 - Context of the Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail with both sides of the loop straddling Latourell Creek
Latourell_Falls_163_04062021 - This was the only person that I saw during the whole time I was doing the Upper Latourell Falls Loop on my visit in early April 2021, which made for easy social distancing and a very nice hike
Latourell_Falls_169_04062021 - Descending over the basalt surface towards the bluff near the brink of Latourell Falls
Latourell_Falls_171_04062021 - Looking down at the context of the short trail and parking lot for Latourell Falls with the rest of the Columbia River Gorge bathed in the morning light as seen from the precarious bluff above the brink of Latourell Falls
Latourell_Falls_175_04062021 - Looking down towards the brink of Latourell Falls
Latourell_Falls_179_04062021 - Looking in the distance towards the Columbia River from a lookout at the very top of the Loop Trail near the final descent towards the Historic Columbia River Highway
Latourell_Falls_181_04062021 - Context of the overlook with a bench at the very top of the Loop Trail near the final descent towards the Historic Columbia River Highway
Latourell_Falls_182_04062021 - Looking across the Columbia River and state border towards some snow-capped mountains within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest from the Upper Latourell Falls Trail
Latourell_Falls_185_04062021 - On the descent towards the Historic Columbia River Highway and nearing the conclusion of my clockwise loop hike to Upper Latourell Falls
Latourell_Falls_193_04062021 - As I got closer to the road, I noticed some flowers in the vegetation flanking the Upper Latourell Falls Trail
Latourell_Falls_194_04062021 - The Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail actually crosses the Historic Columbia River Highway
Latourell_Falls_197_04062021 - Continuing the descent below the Historic Columbia River Highway to complete the Upper Latourell Falls Loop Hike
Latourell_Falls_200_04062021 - Going underneath the Historic Columbia River Highway's arch bridge over Latourell Creek
Latourell_Falls_201_04062021 - Looking across the Old Columbia River Highway's arch bridge as the trail skirted upstream along Latourell Creek
Latourell_Falls_207_04062021 - Looking back along the Upper Latourell Falls Loop Trail and Latourell Creek as I got closer to the actual Latourell Falls again
Latourell_Falls_214_04062021 - Finally witnessing Latourell Falls from its base. For a sense of scale, notice the kids on the trail towards the left side of this photo
Latourell_Falls_219_04062021 - Looking directly at Latourell Falls from the footbridge over Latourell Creek
Latourell_Falls_220_04062021 - Looking back at Latourell Falls as some people were making their way down to its base from the parking lot above


Upper Latourell Falls shares the same trailhead as Latourell Falls, and is one of the westernmost of the major waterfalls along the Old Columbia River Highway.

You can see that page for detailed driving directions, but I’ve also reproduced it here for convenience.

Latourell Falls from Portland via Corbett

The shortest, most scenic, and potentially the fastest way to reach Guy W Talbot State Park was to drive about 19 miles on the eastbound I-84 from Portland to the exit 22 towards Corbett.

Once we got off the ramp, we then turned right at the stop sign and followed the NE Corbett Hill Rd for about 1.3 miles before turning left at the fork to go east on the Historic Columbia River Hwy for 5.2 miles to the Latourell Falls Parking Lot on the right.

Latourell_Falls_007_04062021 - The Latourell Falls / Guy W Talbot State Park parking lot was pretty much empty when I started my Upper Latourell Falls hike in early April 2021
The Latourell Falls / Guy W Talbot State Park parking lot was pretty much empty when I started my Upper Latourell Falls hike in early April 2021

Note that along this stretch of the Historic Columbia River Highway, the Crown Point Vista House was about 2.8 miles on the way or 2.4 miles west of the parking lot for the Latourell Falls.

Latourell Falls from Portland via Bridal Veil

Alternately, we could drive on eastbound I-84 for 25 miles (30 minutes drive without traffic) to the Bridal Veil Exit (exit 28).

Then, we’d turn right to follow the Historic Columbia River Highway headed west for 2.8 miles before reaching the Latourell Falls Parking Lot on the left.

This exit is 26 miles (30 minutes drive) east of Portland.

Latourell Falls from Cascade Locks via Corbett

If you’re headed west on the I-84 then the best exit would be at exit 22 for Corbett.

Latourell_Falls_222_04062021 - When I returned to the parking lot for Latourell Falls at Guy W. Talbot State Park at the end of my Upper Latourell Falls loop hike, the same lot was pretty much full!
When I returned to the parking lot for Latourell Falls at Guy W. Talbot State Park at the end of my Upper Latourell Falls loop hike, the same lot was pretty much full!

This exit was about 22.5 miles (under 30 minutes drive) west of Cascade Locks.

Once on the Corbett exit, turn left and follow NE Corbett Hill Rd and follow the directions as above (for the Corbett exit and not the Bridal Veil exit).

For some geographical context, Portland was about 49 miles (over an hour drive) west of Cascade Locks, 75 miles (90 minutes drive) west of Hood River, 80 miles (1.5 hours drive) east of Cannon Beach, 112 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Eugene, 274 miles (over 4 hours drive) north of Medford, 173 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) south of Seattle, Washington, 440 miles (7 hours drive) west of Boise, Idaho, and 423 miles (6.5 hours drive) north of Redding, California.

Find A Place To Stay



Booking.com

Right to left sweep from the approach along the trail towards the Upper Latourell Falls


Multiple up and down sweeps of the Upper Latourell Falls without any hiking aids or tripod


Multiple down and up sweeps from a couple of different spots

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Booking.com


Tagged with: columbia river gorge, portland, multnomah, oregon, waterfall, pacific northwest, mt hood, mount hood, historic columbia river, guy w talbot



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls


The Process of How I Earn Income Sharing My Passion Through Lived Experiences

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.