Please DO chase this waterfall
The Western Columbia Gorge is filled with exquisitely beautiful waterfalls, and Latourell is no exception. This 2.3 mile loop allows you to get up and close to the lower falls, and underneath the upper falls.
Once you arrive at the signed parking lot, be sure to hide and secure your valuables. The morning I was there I saw evidence of a robbery, the remains of a car's smashed window. The lower falls can be viewed right from the lot behind an interpretive sign. To get a closer view, walk down the short, paved path to the base of the lower falls. The other viewing area is to the left and just up the hill about 30 yards, and this is the way to begin the loop counter-clockwise. The trail ascends up and away from the creek, but then quickly returns to the East side of it. After about 1/2 mile there is a log that allows you to cross to the West side, but don't take that path if you want to see the upper falls; besides, the return loop takes you on the West side of the creek.
The upper falls mark the end of the Southbound portion of the trail. You can get very close to these falls.
The return path on the West side of the creek has a few forks in the road, but they meet back in the same place. The right fork leads to the cliff right above the lower falls someone keeps pulling back the safety cables, and one slip and you're a goner, so I cannot recommend going down there. The trail turns West through more forested area, and at one switchback there is a very odd tree. The trail descends to the highway, but you can cross the road and walk down to a picnic area and turn right on a paved path that takes you under the highway bridge to the base of the lower falls. There are bathrooms to the North of the parking lot, and surprisingly, they are real toilets, not just a hole in the ground.
These photos were taken in March, during the high amount of snow runoff. I've been told that during the late Summer months that the creek flows are so low that the falls become a trickle, but they are still worth a stop along the highway.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.