Historic Columbia River Highway and Falls


This afternoon, I decided to drive out to the old Historic Columbia River Highway, originally built between 1913 and 1922.  I took I-84 to Troutdale and started at the western end of what’s left of the old highway.  I have driven this section before but it’s been a long time, and anyway it was a nice, (mostly) sunny, fall day.

Sherrard Point, Larch Mountain

After a few miles, I semi-intentionally detoured onto the road leading up to Larch Mountain.  (Despite the name, there are no larch trees; early loggers often used “larch” to refer to the noble fir trees they found there.)  Larch Mountain is an extinct shield volcano.  After reaching the parking lot at the top, I set out on foot along a quarter-mile trail to reach the summit, called Sharrard Point.  There were interesting rock formations and old trees to look at along the way.

Of course the trail sign failed to mention all the steps…

But finally I reached the basalt pinnacle, which is what remains of the central plug of the volcano, at a little over 4,000 feet.

From the viewpoint, Mt. Hood was clearly visible, but the other peaks were mostly obscured in clouds and haze.  Still, it was a nice view.

Panorama from Sherrard Point
Panorama from Sherrard Point

I drove back down the Larch Mountain road, then turned and continued east on the old highway.

Latourell Falls

I stopped after a while at Latourell Falls.  The land was donated to the state in 1929 by Guy and Geraldine Talbot.  A short trail leads down to the base of the falls, which plunge almost 250 feet down an overhanging basalt cliff.

Bridal Veil Falls

A short drive further east brought me to the parking lot for Bridal Veil Falls.  A winding trail descends to a low bridge over the creek, and then on to a viewing platform.  Bridal Veil has two falls with a short flat section inbetween.  The Historic Columbia River Highway passes over the upper falls on a small bridge.

Columbia River Gorge

Another trail from the parking lot makes a flat loop out to views of the Columbia River.

Panorama of Columbia River Gorge near Bridal Veil Falls