I have been to the Columbia River Gorge many times over the years, but I never made it up to Upper Latourell Falls. There are just SO many great waterfalls to see in the Gorge, and time is usually very limited. It is impossible to see them all in one trip, and decisions have to be made. Upper Latourell Falls was always the one that was cut out. Not this time.
But actually, Upper Latourell Falls was not on my list “again” this year. I was not planning to go here. Again, too little time and too many waterfalls to see. On my last morning here, I had plans to see some different waterfalls. But this time, circumstances changed and I updated my plan. Mostly it was because I was too tired, and the ones I had initially planned to see would be tough ones, so instead, I decided to go to a couple closer and somewhat easier waterfalls (namely, Triple Falls and Oneonta Falls, and then Upper Latourell Falls).
Upper Latourell was the last one I saw on this trip. It is a nice one, dropping 122 ft., but is not particularly easy to photograph the entire waterfall. This is the lower section, and it looks quite like Oneonta Falls, which I had just visited an hour earlier. You can also get up in behind this waterfall as well. I finished the hike about noon, and fortunately it was overcast so I had good lighting. Then after lunch, I made the long drive back to California. It so happened that it was a Saturday, and both the Beavers and Ducks had home games this day. I-5 was totally clogged up with traffic, by fans from these teams driving down from Portland to see their teams. All the cars on the freeway had their Beavers or Ducks flags waving from their cars. It was crazy. And it did not make me happy, trying to make decent time back to California. Well, it took awhile, but I finally got by them all and made it back to California. Geesh.
I think I have said this before, but it seems to me that compared to California, Oregon’s waterfalls are all so perfect: perfectly shaped, and perfectly formed. California has the huge ones of course: Yosemite, Bridalveil, etc. Oregon’s waterfalls are generally not so huge, but they are all respectable sizes. And just so perfect. Horsetail and Ponytail Falls are “perfect” examples. To me, they just really look like a horse’s tail, and a pony’s tail.
It is a bit of a climb from Horsetail Falls up to Ponytail Falls. I actually thought it was a lot harder than it was. For some reason or other, I had it marked on my GPS as a 1000 ft. climb, which makes it as high as climbing to the top of Multnomah Falls. I told John this beforehand, and I still managed to talk him into it, after already a hard day of photographing the Gorge. It really was only about a 600 ft. climb. Ponytail Falls is located right on top of Horsetail Falls, I thought it was further up the mountain. Oh well, this is a good thing.
Ponytail Falls is an incredibly photogenic waterfall. We spent quite a bit of time photographing around it, finding different compositions, moving around big logs that were in the way, placing leaves, etc. It is also a popular waterfall. As we were down below it photographing, one guy came down and sat on a big rock right in front of us, going into some kind of meditative state or other. John was more upset about this than I was. I just laughed. Around here, you just gotta go with the flow and move on.
It seems not many people know about Oneonta Falls. It is not an advertised waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, and in the past, it was often mistaken for smaller Middle Oneonta Falls. I think these days, more people know about it, and it is getting more traffic. It is off the beaten path, but it is not too terribly difficult to get down to. The first section is very steep, but there are plenty of handholds to use.
Oneonta Falls was one of the two waterfalls in the Gorge that I absolutely had to get to on this trip (the other being Upper Bridal Veil). And I must say, it is a stunning location. I could have spent all day down there enjoying this one, and I really did not want to leave. It is tucked down at the bottom of a gorgeous canyon, it seems like you are in a separate world, and indeed, there will not likely be another soul in sight, and you will be able to enjoy this one all to yourself. There are plenty of photo opportunities down there as well, and you can even walk in behind the falls if you so desire. It is just a magnificent place.
On a final note, I have finally finished updating my site with all the Oregon waterfalls I visited on this trip. I have added or updated 26 Columbia River Gorge waterfalls on my site, and have added info for an additional 40 Oregon waterfalls to my site:
Leaf Placer! I have never placed a leaf for a photo in my life, and never will. Ha! Do you believe me?
This is another one from Punch Bowl Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. We spent a lot of time here wading around in the creek, taking shots, placing leaves … er, I mean looking for great compositions with Fall leaf colors in them.
This is beautiful Metlako Falls along Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge. It is about 100 ft. high.