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Latourell Falls
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What’s to Love: An easy 2.3 mile loop brings you past two picture-perfect waterfalls (lower and upper) with viewing bridges at each spot giving you a close-up view. On the return portion of the hike there is a spectacular viewing area that gives a great view of Rooster Rock and the Gorge. The hiking length is just right for a family outing, and the terrain is adventurous but never risky or questionable. The best part about this hike is that it’s the closest waterfall-hike to Portland. There is also a picnic area on the return trip.

Caveats: The only negative here is the last 1/2 mile where you have to pass under the old highway and hike pretty close to it for the finale. The parking area will surely be crowded, so plan accordingly.

Website: Local Hikes with some reviews

Distance from Portland: About 30-35 miles from downtown Portland.

Recommended Ages:All ages – this is a great hike to take with newborns and infants. Make sure you have a good carrier like a Baby Bjorn or Ergo Child Carrier.

Parental Stress Factor: Low – this is a pretty low key hike without too many difficulties. If you’re just introducing your kids to hiking, this might be just the trip for you.

Physical Difficulty: Medium – At an easy pace, this hike is no problem for most people. You’ll see a wide variety of people on this hike.

Family Fun Factor: Medium to High – If you have some little hikers, you’ll have a blast on this trip. It’s short enough for many older kids to walk. Beginning walkers will want to try out the paved path.

Pet Friendly: Dogs on leashes are fine.

Weather Considerations: Obviously more pleasant in nice weather, but this hike is open all winter and probably your best bet during those colder, rainy months.

Insider Info: This is a Gorge trail that can be hiked most of the winter. The paved path at the beginning is a good way to gauge how your kids will do on the hike. Watch your kids closely near all bridges and viewpoints. It seems like people fall off these every year. Also, watch your kids around the parking areas and the old highway.

Family Tips: This is one of those hikes on which you can take parents and grandparents (if they’re good hikers). If family and or friends are coming in from out-of-town, this is a great hike to show them. Due to some steep spots and a narrow trail at times, I recommend a backpack carrier. A framed backpack is almost too much for this hike, because your kid/s might want to walk. Look into an “Ergo Carrier,” these are perfect for hiking, and you can carry the child in the front (when they are infants) or the back when they are older. We just used the Ergo for our 4 year old son!

If you plan on just viewing the lower falls, a jogging stroller is your best bet. The picnic area isn’t that great, and you’re practically back to your car when you get there. If you bring a picnic, find a nice spot by one of the waterfalls.

Technorati Tags: Latourell Falls, waterfalls, Columbia Gorge, Hood River, Bonneville Dam, waterfall hikes for kids

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