My mother-in-law recently asked me to come up with some easy, senior-friendly walks that she could take with her visiting sister. The first thing I thought of was Latourell Falls. It has minimal elevation gain, it's practically paved, and you can see the waterfall without even leaving the parking lot. Nailed it.
Where: Latourelle Falls, Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway
Hike Length: 0 to 1 mile
Hike Difficulty: Easy
What to Wear: Comfortable Shoes, Layers, Waterproof layer if you plan to get close to the waterfall.
What to Bring: Camera, Snacks for the road, Water
What to Know:
- Many roads in the Columbia River Gorge are still closed due to fire damage. For instance, if you plan to see Multnomah Falls too, go there first so you don't have to circle back NINE miles after going to Lataurelle just to get there. Yeah.
- The roads are narrow and parking can be an issue in peak season. Plan accordingly.
- Restrooms are available at the parking lot.
- The main viewing area and restrooms are wheelchair accessible.
- This hike is dog friendly.
- A lot of roads and hikes may still be closed due to the Eagle Creek Wildfire. Check before you go, here.
Where to See Waterfalls Easily
The Columbia River Gorge is a jackpot for waterfall chasers. Even on the drive out there, you'll see plenty of them trickling down the surrounding cliffs. Sometimes you just want to be near one without hiking 9 miles up a mountain. That's what is so great about the gorge, and Latourelle Falls specifically. Just take an afternoon drive from Portland toward Cascade Locks, sit back, and enjoy the scenery. You'll see lush forests and roadside waterfalls aplenty before you even make it to your destination.
Easy, Family Friendly Walking at Latourelle Falls
The parking lot at Latourell Falls is small, but additional parking can be found nearby at Guy Talbot State Park. If you're lucky enough to get a primo spot in the lot, you're golden. You probably wouldn't even have to get out of the car to see the waterfall. But I recommend it. Walk over to the viewing area and immediately you are gifted with a perfectly framed image of Latourell Falls. If you happen to be visiting with elderly relatives, or just short on time, your job is done. But if you feel like taking a stroll, follow the short path down to the falls.
A picturesque footbridge is located at the base of the falls for all of your Instagram worthy photography needs. You can continue down the trail toward Guy Talbot Park, or go back to the lot the way you came. If you choose to head toward the park, it's a short walk that loops back up around to the main highway. You will be able to cross the road and walk over a beautiful old brick bridge with another great view of the waterfall on your way back to the parking lot.
This hike/walk is perfect for older folks or just for a quick afternoon escape. I recommend making a day of it and also visiting Multnomah Falls and Vista House at Crown point. A great loop to show your out-of-town guests!
Have you visited one of the many waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge? Tell us all about it in the comments section!