The Columbia River Gorge, 30 minutes east of Portland, is filled with lots of great hiking. You could easily spend a couple of days hiking all the different trails. I love the Columbia River Gorge and having it in Portland’s backyard is one of the many reasons to love this city. A really great hike, and the closest of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls to Portland, is Latourell Falls. Latourell Falls is a easy to moderate hike just past Vista House on the Historic Columbia River Highway.
To get to Latourell Falls, head east on I-84 out of Portland. Take exit 22 (Corbet) and drive up to the Historic Columbia River Highway and turn left. If you have the time the Portland Women’s Forum and Vista House are on the way and worth stopping at. If you are crunched for time, keep driving. Latourell Falls is on the right side of the highway past the Vista House. The parking lot is marked Latourell Falls. If you are going to hike the falls I suggest heading out early because the parking lot can fill up fast. If you get to Latourell Falls by 9:30 you should be able to find plenty of parking. If you get there too late you will need to park on the shoulder of the highway.
The hike to view both Lower Latourell Falls and Upper Latourell Falls is a little over 2 miles. The hike is easy/moderate in difficulty. The beginning to the hike is a bit steep but after that it levels off. if you are not interested in the hike but just want to view the falls you can get a pretty good view from a trail just below the parking lot.
However, I think the hike is well worth it. It is good exercise and Upper Latourell Falls is a pretty waterfall that is not overly crowded thanks to the uphill hike to get there.
Another reason why I think the Upper Latourell Falls hike is worth it is for the view. After you walk past the falls there is a split in the trail. One goes up (the way back) and one goes down. The downhill trail will take you to a lookout with a great view of the Columbia River Gorge below.
If you are looking for a day hike from Portland and don’t have all day to spend in the Columbia River Gorge, then Latourell Falls may be the hike for you.