Want to take an easy stroll through the woods, only 2.5 hours from the Tri-Cities? Want to cool your feet in some of the Pacific Northwest’s plentiful waterfalls? Well, jump on the highway to Oregon and head west to the Hood River area. Of course, there are many hikes of varying ability in the region because of the close proximity of Mt. Hood, but there are also many easy hikes that offer entrance into the beauty of the area.
About 40 miles along the Historic Columbia River Highway, near Corbett in Guy W. Talbot State Park, you will find the Latourell Falls Loop. It’s an easy trail, a little over two miles in length, with approximately 650’ of elevation gain spread out over the trail. It’s amazing to see the single waterfall of 224 feet. Clearly, this offers a fabulous photo op to the novice hiker. Notes on AllTrails from those who have enjoyed this hike warn us that appropriate footwear is a must because the trail can be a bit slick at times. This loop is trekked by many because it is the closest picturesque hike to Portland; consequently, if you can sneak out during the week, it will be less crowded.
Another 2.4 mile trail in the Gorge will take you to Wahclella Falls. This easy hike only requires your leg muscles to work 350’ of elevation over the two-plus miles to the waterfalls. The trailhead is located along the Columbia River Gorge Highway and is about 30 minutes west of Hood River. The U.S. Forest Service may charge a fee for the hike and you are required to exhibit a parking pass. When you reach the falls, you will see the confluence of two waterfalls. Together they fall 350’ to the pool where many hikers linger for a bit of food and drink. The upper segment of the waterfall is not visible, but the lower rushes to a pool of water in which you can dip your toes and rest before heading back down the trail.
Dry Creek Falls
For a little longer hike, Dry Creek Falls offers 4.4 miles of forested beauty on your way to the falls. Again, this is considered an easy hike, so those of all skill levels will find enjoyment. Your will start at either the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead or the PCT Harvey Road Trailhead, so you are about 25 minutes west along the Gorge Highway from Hood River. You start off on the famous Pacific Coast Trail that parallels the road. During your stroll you will gain about 725’ of elevation, so most flatland walkers will not be stressed! At the falls you will see a single plunging fall from basalt cliffs of about 75’… “just another bloody waterfall”, right?
Scenic Gorge Highway
If your nostrils are clanging for some fresh, pine-filled air, cool spring breezes, and the sites of nature’s waterfalls, book a hotel in Hood River as base and start exploring the Scenic Gorge Highway. Skip Multnomah Falls this time and wander deeper into the woods where only those willing to hike get to experience Oregon’s multitudes of accessible waterfalls!