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Catherine Creek-Coyote Wall Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 18:10, 24 February 2018 by Bobcat (Talk | contribs)

In between Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall, there are grassy ridges with great views towards Mount Hood, the Columbia River, and Mosier. (Jerry Adams)
To the Southeast, you can see the Columbia River and The Dalles. (Jerry Adams)
The trail follows an old 4 wheel drive road. There is a single lane bicycle track. A lot of the ways, the trail goes through grassy meadow areas. (Jerry Adams)
Sometimes, the trail goes through forested areas of mostly Oak trees. (Jerry Adams)
  • Start point: Catherine Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Coyote Wall Upper Viewpoint
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 11.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2640 feet
  • High point: 1675 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round, best March–May
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, on spring weekends


Hike Description

This hike links the Catherine Creek area with the Coyote Wall area. There are great views of the Columbia River, the east end of the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, and a lot of wildflowers. There are numerous variations to this hike, including starting farther east at the Tracy Hill Trailhead for a much longer day that will take in all the features of the area.

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 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! This is a good spot to turn around and begin the loop proper.

Return to cross Catherine Creek, and go right on the FR 20 spur road (Atwood Road). Hike up under oaks and ponderosas to get views across to the Catherine Creek Arch. You may notice Lewis’s woodpeckers flitting about in the trees, turkeys may scuttle off in the undergrowth, and there are views back to the Columbia River. Keep up the main road bed and pass under powerlines. Big-leaf maples and Douglas-firs suddenly become the dominant canopy. In dark Douglas-fir woods, the track drops to the Atwood Road-Old Stove Road Junction (There's an old stove just down the road to the right). Keep left here and curve up on a poison oak-lined track to emerge from the woods onto the vast grassy slope of Sunflower Hill. Death-camas and bare-stem desert parsley bloom in profusion here in the spring, and views extend east to the Columbia Hills and across the river to McCall Point and Memaloose Hills near Mosier.

You'll soon reach the trail post at the Atwood Road-Sunflower Hill Trail Junction. Keep heading west on Atwood Road here. Descend gently across the face of Sunflower Hill, getting views down the Rowland Wall to the Rowland Pinnacle. Enter shady oak woods carpeted with poison oak. Lupine and chocolate lilies bloom trailside. Cross a trickling Rowland Creek, and transition from oaks to Douglas-firs. The road bed rises to the Atwood Road-Shoestring Trail Junction, where you keep right to stay on Atwood Road. Enter a ponderosa pine/whote oak parkland and then cross an open grassy slope with expansive views to the vineyards and cherry orchards of Mosier. The trail drops into oak/Douglas-fir forest to cross a seasonal creek. Reach an open slope again and look right for lilac bushes that bloom in mid-spring. Behind the lilacs are the ruins of an old homestead, where daffodils and German irises also bloom. Then come to the signposted Atwood Road-Upper Labyrinth Trail Junction. Continue west through an oak wood to reach an open slope and follow Atwood Road, here just a narrow track, to cross a creek. You’ll pass a post that marks the upper end of the former Hidden Valley Trail, now decommissioned, and then enter oaks again to reach a new footbridge over Labyrinth Creek. Soon after this come to a complex set of junctions where you’ll keep straight and exit the oaks at the Atwood Road-Old Ranch Road Trail Junction (Before the junction, a single track trail leads up through the oaks for a shortcut across the private property of Burns Farm to the top of Coyote Wall). There’s a sign near on the road leading up to a house telling you where private property is.

Head left on Old Ranch Road Trail #4426 past a copse of larger oaks and descend the hillside to get far-reaching views to Mount Hood and major prominences in-between. You’ll pass along the east side of a meadow before traversing west through a band of oaks and arriving at the Old Ranch Road-Coyote Wall Traverse Trail Junction. From here, go right to continue the traverse across a grassy slope and cross a low footbridge. The trail then switchbacks up twice, weaving in and out of the oaks and passing below a meadow where a couple of boats (!) are parked. At the next switchback, look to the oak-shaded draw on your left to see an old rock dam that backs up a small pond. Keep left at the junction with a connector trail that drops down from the western edge of the Burns Farm. Recross the draw and traverse an open slope before reaching the Coyote Wall-Coyote Wall Traverse Trail Junction, in marked with a post that has no sign (as of 2018).

Here go right to head straight up the slope on an old jeep track. You’ll cross a cutoff trail that comes from the vicinity of the Demi Anni Vineyards and then arrive at a loop in the rough road track that appears briefly from the woods: This is the western end of the cutoff trail that crosses Burns Farm. Keep going a few more yards to a lone ponderosa at the Coyote Wall Upper Viewpoint. This is a great picnic spot although you’ll need to look out for ticks in the spring. There’s a view up to the northern rim of the wall and expansive views across the Columbia River to Mount Defiance and Mount Hood.

When you’re ready to finish the loop, take the southern section of the Crybaby Trail, which hugs the edge of the wall and gives you views down into the oak/ponderosa woods below: The trails down there are now off-limits as they cross private land. The views are glorious all the way down and, close at hand, balsamroot and pungent desert parsley blooms in clumps while vultures whoosh by as they capture the thermals. You may see a small plaque memorializing a mountain biker who got too close to the edge here. The Crybaby Trail joins the Coyote Wall Trail near the Coyote Wall-Coyote Wall Traverse Trail Junction, and the former trail keeps dropping through fields of buttercup and balsamroot. Hike down through a gathering of young ponderosa pines, and pass through a fence line. After winding farther down an open slope, come to the Coyote Wall-Old Ranch Road Trail Junction.

Go right through a gap in a fence and, after about 60 yards, reach the Old Ranch Road-Little Moab Trail Junction. Here, make a right to get another cliff-edge view at the Coyote Wall Viewpoint, and then return to


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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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