Latourell Falls is the first of a half-dozen roadside waterfalls seen by motorists. When the Columbia River Highway was built, special care was taken to ensure the bridge crossing Latourell Creek provided a good view of the waterfall. Nonetheless, be sure to take the paved 150-yard trail from the parking lot to the base of this 249-foot cataract.
The shade and cooling spray create a microclimate for fleabane, a delicate bluish member of the aster family, and other flowers normally common to alpine biomes. The misty tendrils of water against the columnar basalt formations on the cliffs make Latourell a favorite with photographers. Foragers appreciate maidenhair ferns and thimbleberries, but not enough to denude the slope.
Another trailhead begins in the middle of the parking lot and climbs around and above Latourell Falls, although bushes may obscure the overhang from which the water descends when you’re looking down from the top. You’ll probably be more inclined to stop after 50 yards and take in the distant perspective of Latourell from across the chasm.
Latourell Creek flows from the waterfall underneath the highway bridge toward Guy Talbot State Park, where there are picnic tables shaded by an ancient forest.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel