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Catalpa Lake via Bonney Meadows Trail Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Barlow Creek near the campground (bobcat)
The White River on the Bonney Meadows Trail (bobcat)
The broken bridge on Barlow Creek (bobcat)
Little pipsissewa (Chimaphila menziesii) near Green Lake Creek (bobcat)
Catalpa Lake (bobcat)
Route to Catalpa Lake using the Bonney Meadows Trail (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Wamic Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Catalpa Lake
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 9.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,750 feet
  • High Point: 4,195 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer through Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



This hike drops into an old-growth bottomland that holds Bonney Creek, the White River, and Barlow Creek before rising up a wilderness slope to sparkling Catalpa Lake, nestled under the Frog Lake Buttes. You will use part of the Oregon Trail to take this route, but note also that the White River Ford is much deeper than most fords in the area, so if you're not up for that, you could hike up to Catalpa Lake from the Barlow Creek Campground or do the short Catalpa Lake Hike.

From the pullout on FR 48 (Wamic Road), head down Bonney Meadows Trail #471 in a dry forest of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western red-cedar. There may be some blowdown and debris as this section of trail is not maintained annually. There are four switchbacks. The trail levels and you cross a tannin-stained skunk-cabbage bog which is actually Bonney Creek. There are large, old-growth Douglas-firs and hemlocks in this area. Suddenly, you will reach the White River Ford. The trail veers right to the best ford of the river. Depending on your height, this ford may still be thigh to waist high.

WARNING: The White River flows out of a glacier on Mount Hood. The water will be cold! Use trekking poles or a solid staff to keep your balance. Keep your boots on or exchange them for tennis shoes (not water shoes or flip-flops). Pack away your camera. Unbuckle your pack, so if you go down, you can slip it off: you don't want it to drag you under. Cross slowly and deliberately, side on to the current, feeling your way with your feet and probing with poles. Unless you have a dog that is a strong swimmer and loves the water, leave your pet at home for this hike. See also Tips for Crossing Streams.

Back on the trail, head through open woodland with western white pines. The wide trail crosses a small bog and then follow a road track through lodgepole pine woods and reach the Barlow Road, where a sign says Catalpa Lake is 1 ¾ miles (It’s actually farther than that). There’s also a post marking the Oregon Trail here. The Bonney Meadows Trail crossed the road here and headed into the woods, but it's not obvious, so it's best to go left on the road and fetch up at the Barlow Creek Campground. Turn right into the campground area and then head up to locate the broken bridge over Barlow Creek. After crossing this bridge, reach a road junction and go left for 80 yards to pick up the Bonney Meadows Trail again as it rises up a slope.

Pass a new sign for the Mt. Hood Wilderness (This section was added in 2009) and walk through a vine maple shaded talus field. The resident pikas should be active. Deer fern abounds along the trail, which also traverses many small seeps and springs. This is a lush green forest of Engelmann spruce, Douglas-fir, mountain hemlock, western red-cedar, grand fir and western white pine. Cross a tumbling creek and another vine mapled scree slope. The trail then rises more gently among large Douglas-firs. Head into the Green Lake Creek valley, where you will step across the mossy creek and head up to join the Catalpa Lake Trail #535 near the Catalpa Lake Trailhead.

The Catalpa Lake Trail uses an old road bed for its initial course. Rhododendrons and huckleberry form the understory. The path drops off the road bed and enters the Mt. Hood Wilderness again. Recross Green Lake Creek before the trail rises gently and then drops among mountain hemlock, Douglas-fir, silver fir, and western white pine. Arrive at Catalpa Lake, which is backed by a scree slope below the Frog Lake Buttes. You can go right around the lakeshore and reach a campsite with an historic thunderbox. Watch the resident newts floating about in the waters. There is no trail all around the lake, but you can bushwhack through the rhododendrons to make the circuit.

Fees, Regulations, etc.


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Wilson, OR #494
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area

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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.

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