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Catherine Creek Universal Access Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Catherine Creek Falls, Catherine Creek Interpretive Trail (bobcat)
Harvest brodiaea (Brodiaea coronaria), Catherine Creek (bobcat)
Poppies and view, Catherine Creek Interpretive Trail (bobcat)
Route of the hike
Poison Oak
Snakes
Ticks

Contents

Hike Description

The Catherine Creek area is widely known for its wildflowers, and this short loop allows easy access to meadows and viewpoints on a paved loop. The U.S. Forest Service purchased this former ranch in the 1980s, and in 1998 a universal access trail was completed in the area between Old Highway 8 and Highway 14. The most difficult part of the entire hike for those in wheelchairs is going to be the parking area. The parking lot is unimproved and has a hard surface of somewhat uneven stone.

Cross the road to the trailhead proper, and you'll come to an accessible port-a-potty and a gate. From here the trail surface is all paved and in good condition. Cross a grassy meadow, and come to the trail junction at the beginning of the loop. Go left to pass an old corral in a grove of oaks. The trail weaves past several informational signs about the flora and history of the area. Pass a ten-foot high clump of poison oak and little clusters of bitterroot, which flowers at the end of April, on rocky humps. After a quarter of a mile, the trail reaches an overlook with a bench and a view to Catherine Creek Falls, which run at a much reduced flow in the summer. From the falls, the trail drops down somewhat steeply and switchbacks. Cross a footbridge at a vernal pond, and then traverse a small boardwalk. At a junction with a shortcut trail, keep left to make the larger loop.

Pass through an oak/ponderosa copse below a basalt outcropping. Then you're out in the open again, getting expansive views of the Columbia River. Reach the Catherine Creek West Viewpoint, and get views downriver. Near here, the rock face is splitting away at a cleft tangled with big root, a kind of wild cucumber. Cracks like this form between different lava flows and create the interesting rock formations in the area: A similar fault has created the nearby Catherine Creek Arch. The trail swings up below a house; then wend up through a grassland past more interpretive signs. California poppy, buckwheat, bitterroot and cluster lilies all bloom here in the spring. At the upper junction with the shortcut trail, keep left and head up toward the road.

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - East #432S
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • $2 toll each way at the Hood River Bridge
  • Dogs must be on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks

  • Best Desert Hikes: Washington by Alan L. Bauer & Dan A. Nelson
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington by Susan Elderkin
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Take A Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Columbia Gorge Hikes: 42 Scenic Hikes by Don & Roberta Lowe

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.