Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Latourell Falls and Larch Mountain – 10/31/2020

We wrapped up our “official” 2020 hiking season on Halloween with a pair of hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. Latourell Falls and Larch Mountain were two of the remaining eight featured hikes we had yet to do from Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington”. We started our morning at Guy Talbot State Park for the short loop hike to Lower and Upper Latourell Falls. We arrived before 7:30am in an attempt to avoid the crowds that would likely be arriving later in the day which worked out as the only other car that was there when we arrived soon left. The downside was that the Sun was still working it’s way up leaving the conditions less than perfect for photos.
IMG_8096

IMG_8101

The loop starts at the trailhead with a paved path to the right leading down to the splash pool below Lower Latourell Falls and the left hand fork leading uphill .8 miles to Upper Latourell Falls. With the lack of light we chose to head for the upper falls first to let the Sun get a little higher before visiting the lower falls. Just over a quarter mile up the trail we arrived at a viewpoint overlooking Lower Latourell Falls.
IMG_8105

There were a few more views of the falls as the trail continued to climb beyond the viewpoint.
20201031_073247_HDR

IMG_8112

IMG_8124

There was also a view across the Columbia River of Silver Star Mountain (post).
IMG_8130

Above the lower falls the trail followed Henderson Creek up a narrow canyon to the upper falls.
IMG_8135

IMG_8139

IMG_8146

IMG_8148

IMG_8152

This 120′ waterfall consists of an upper slide before the water turns sharply right through a chute before a final plunge into the splash pool.
20201031_075834_HDR

We crossed the creek on a footbridge below the splash pool then explored behind the falls under the basalt.
IMG_8166

IMG_8169

IMG_8172

IMG_8175

Beyond the falls the trail headed downhill on the opposite side of the creek.
IMG_8183

IMG_8186

IMG_8188

IMG_8192

After a half mile a short spur trail led downhill to a viewpoint above Lower Latourell Falls (the falls were not visible from here).
IMG_8203

IMG_8204

IMG_8206Silver Star Mountain in the background with the cliffs of Cape Horn (post) along the Columbia River.

After checking out the viewpoint we continued on the loop passing another viewpoint across the Columbia a short distance later.
IMG_8215Looking east down the Columbia River.

IMG_8218Looking NW across the Columbia.

IMG_8220Silver Star Mountain again.

The trail crossed Historic Highway 30 before dropping into the picnic area of the park then led under a bridge to the base of Lower Latourell Falls.
IMG_8229

IMG_8231

IMG_8232

IMG_8234

IMG_8237

IMG_8239

IMG_8247

At 249′ Lower Latourell Falls is the 3rd tallest fall in the Columbia River Gorge. It was at the base of the falls that we finally crossed paths with other people. There was a pair of hikers and then a wedding party arrived for pictures.
IMG_8251

IMG_8252

We left the falls to the photographers and climbed back up to the trailhead. This loop is approximately 2.5 miles (a little more if you do any exploring) with 600′ of elevation gain.

We then drove west on Highway 30 toward Corbett, OR turning onto Larch Mountain Road which we followed for 11.6 miles to a sharp right hand corner. At the corner is a small pullout at a gated road which is where we were planning on starting our hike. There were already a couple of cars parked here so we continued 100 yards up the road to a small pullout on the right.
IMG_8271Looking down toward the corner from the small pullout on the right.

The official trailhead is located at the end of Larch Mountain Road and requires a NW Forest Pass. The upper trailhead also provides for a much shorter hike to the viewpoint atop Sherrard Point.

We walked along the shoulder of Larch Mountain road to the gate, checking the posted Forest Service notice regarding closures to make sure our planned route was indeed open.
IMG_8272

All the trails along our route were indeed open so we started up the old roadbed following it for a little over a quarter mile to the Larch Mountain Trail.
IMG_8275

IMG_8281

The 6.8 mile Larch Mountain Trail runs between Multnomah Falls (post) and Larch Mountain. The trails around Multnomah Falls are currently closed or limited by reservation only due to COVID-19. A right turn uphill on the Larch Mountain Trail would have brought us to the upper trailhead in 1.5 miles while turning downhill to the left would also get us to Larch Mountain in approximately 5 miles. We turned left for two reasons, first Sullivan’s description has you go that way and second we wanted to give the Sun more time to get overhead in hopes of having a better view of Mt. Hood.

The Larch Mountain Trail dropped over 300′ in the next .4 miles before arriving at a junction with the Multnomah Creek Way Trail.
IMG_8286

IMG_8288

IMG_8291Multnomah Creek Way Trail.

We followed this trail downhill for .2 miles to a footbridge over Multnomah Creek.
IMG_8295

After crossing the creek the trail turned uphill following the creek up into the Multnomah Basin.
IMG_8299

IMG_8302

IMG_8311Larch Mountain from Multnomah Basin

IMG_8315

IMG_8318

The trail climbed out of the basin and eventually joined an old roadbed as it wrapped around a ridge end.
IMG_8336

IMG_8343

IMG_8349

IMG_8348Mt. St. Helens (behind some tress) and Mt. Rainier.

A little over 2.75 miles from the footbridge we arrived at a junction with the Oneonta Trail where we turned uphill to the right.
IMG_8350

IMG_8352

The Oneonta Trail followed the ridge uphill to Larch Mountain Road in .9 miles. Aside from a couple and their dog at the footbridge we hadn’t seen any other hikers until this stretch when we started to occasionally pass other hikers.
IMG_8354

IMG_8361Signboard near Larch Mountain Road.

IMG_8364Larch Mountain Road from the end of the Oneonta Trail

We turned right and followed the road uphill a half mile to the upper trailhead.
IMG_8368

IMG_8370

From the parking lot we followed a paved path .2 miles to Sherrard Point.
IMG_8374

IMG_8378Just a few of the steps up to Sherrard Point.

IMG_8380

It had turned out to be a beautiful day and we had clear views of 5 Cascade volcanoes; Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.
20201031_114918Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams.

IMG_8391Mt. Hood

The Sun was just a bit of an issue when looking at Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_8422Mt. Hood with Mt. Jefferson to the right.

20201031_115249Mt. Jefferson

One neat feature at Sherrard Point are the plaques identifying the mountains, their elevations, and their distance from the viewpoint.
IMG_8403

IMG_8406

IMG_8408

IMG_8409

IMG_8415

IMG_8411View east from Sherrard Point.

After enjoying the view we headed down and took an unsigned right hand fork uphill to the picnic area.
IMG_8428

IMG_8429

From there we stayed right at forks heading downhill until we reached the Larch Mountain Trail at another unsigned junction near some old picnic tables.
IMG_8434

IMG_8436

We followed the Larch Mountain Trail downhill back to the junction with road bed where we had started our loop then followed the road bed back to Larch Mountain Road and our car.
IMG_8438

IMG_8442

We were expecting this hike to be about 6.5 miles with 1300′ of elevation gain but both of our GPS units had us a little over 7.5 miles. Regardless it was an excellent hike with a nice variety of scenery and some great views. We were pleasantly surprised that it hadn’t been too crowded at Sherrard Point allowing for plenty of space between people. It was a great way to end what has been the strangest hiking season that we’ve had yet. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Latourell Falls and Larch Mountain