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Catherine Creek Arch Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The arch, Catherine Creek (bobcat)
The Catherine Creek Bridge (Steve Hart)
An abandoned corral (Steve Hart)
Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), Catherine Creek (bobcat)
The loop route at Catherine Creek (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
Poison Oak
Snakes
Ticks

Contents

Hike Description

There are a number of pleasant strolls in the Catherine Creek area: this one visits the Catherine Creek Arch, an old corral, and ponderosa pine parklands offering views to the Columbia River and a display of wildflowers in the spring. Originally the Lauterbach Ranch, the property, which extends from Tracy Hill west to the Labyrinth, was purchased by the Trust for Public Land in 1985. In 1986, the Scenic Area was established and the next year, the Forest Service purchased the land from TPL in keeping with its goal to expand public holdings within the CRGNSA. At first, only a few botanizers explored these slopes: the area has greater floral diversity than places like Dog Mountain because of the unusual scabland nature of the slopes below 1,200 feet, which were scoured repeatedly by the Bretz (Missoula) Floods (15,300 – 12,700 years ago). Now, Catherine Creek is a very popular destination, especially in the spring, so it's a good idea to get here early on weekends to have the place a little to yourself.

From the Catherine Creek Trailhead, hike on a closed road (Atwood Road, signed FR 020), toward the northeast. This trail soon drops down to Catherine Creek as it bubbles through a small oak forest. The graveled road continues upstream for a bit to a junction with another closed road, this one signed FR 021, a.k.a. the Catherine Creek Arch Trail. Follow the road as it crosses the creek on a small bouncy bridge made of small logs and plywood. This trail heads up the east side of the creek next to large wall of columnar basalt.

You'll soon come to an abandoned corral filled with miner's lettuce that blooms in April. The rock arch looms over the corral high above a talus slope made of fallen rock. In times past, visitors could scramble up and through the arch to the bench above, but now it is fenced off by pole and rail to protect it as a significant cultural site for Native Americans. Past the corral, on your left, are the collapsed remains of a shed: rattlesnakes take cover under the planks here, so be careful if you're poking about! The road leaves the valley and passes the Catherine Creek Arch-Catherine Creek Pinnacles Trail Junction to veer right in a ponderosa pine/oak parkland. Under powerlines, reach a signpost at the Catherine Creek Arch-Eastside Trail Junction, and make a right.

This often boggy section of the loop trail rises to the western slope of Tracy Hill through seeps and patches of April-blooming camas. The path steers down along the basalt rim of Catherine Creek's small canyon, passing a section that is peeling off, but offers a great viewpoint. You’ll pass the Catherine Creek Arch on the east side of a pole and rail fence, so will not be able to make out much of the structure. From the end of the fence, however, you can step over to the rim and get a view down to the old corral and Catherine Creek itself. Look south for a great view of Mount Hood, and search along the rocky rim for the beautiful bitterroot, which blooms here around the the beginning of May. Continue hiking down the open scabland slope, stepping in and out of a narrow gully that funnels a rushing brook. Keep descending to arrive above Old Highway 8.

Here the trail splits: those parked at the Catherine Creek Trailhead need to drop down to the highway and walk the highway back to their vehicles over the road bridge that spans Catherine Creek.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - East #432S

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Dogs must be on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider (revised by Jim Yuskavitch)
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Pokin' Round the Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.