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Latourell Falls Waterfall Portland Metropolitan, USA
Portland Metropolitan, USA

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls is the closest of the major Columbia River Gorge waterfalls to Portland, and it's also one of the most photogenic. A tall single-plunge waterfall of 224 feet, it spills over the lip of an undercut amphitheater of tall pillars of columnar basalt. An eye-catching splash of chartreuse-colored golden cobblestone lichen (Pleopsidium flavum) adorns the upper amphitheater and contrasts with the dark basalt walls. You can view these lower falls from a point just above the trailhead, but the loop hike here takes you up Latourell Creek to see two-tiered Upper Latourell Falls before winding down to the state park picnic area below the highway. Then you can hike up under the highway bridge to the base of Latourell Falls and admire the plunge and basalt columns from below. Between them, the two waterfalls and Latourell Creek flow over three different flows of the Columbia River Basalts, which backfilled this valley between 15.5 and 14 million years ago. The waterfalls are beautiful in all seasons, but in the summer, the water flow is very low, creating near misty conditions; in the winter, the splash can freeze dangerously across the trail.

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