Catherine Creek Arch Loop
Eastern Gorge, Washington
Early-season wildflowers at Catherine Creek Arch (photographer: Bobbye Gluesenkamp)
Hike Details
1.9 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
325 feet
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
WildflowersBeautiful ViewsCultural HistoryCultural History
From the Catherine Creek Trailhead, this hike heads northeast on the closed road marked "020", soon dropping down to Catherine Creek. The closed road continues upstream to a junction with another closed road, marked "021". Follow the "21 Trail" as it crosses the creek and heads upstream. The trail passes a rock arch that looms over an abandoned corral, high above a talus slope made of fallen rock. You'll notice the buck-and-pole style fence around the arch to discourage off-trail hiking. The arch is culturally significant to Native Americans. Please respect this area. The trail then works its way through oak trees and flower-laden meadows. A short distance above the corral is a collapsed building.
The trail/road then climbs a very short uphill stretch and heads east into a side valley filled with pine trees. As the road approaches a power line, you'll see a single track footpath headed up to the left (south). This is your return route. This footpath climbs to the top of the basalt wall, then winds its way downhill toward the highway. In season, this entire area is filled with wildflowers of countless varieties. You'll pass the top of the rock arch on your way down. In ~1 mile, you'll come to Old Highway 8, ~1/4 mile east of your car. Hike the highway shoulder back to your car.
Please note: Dogs are required to be on-leash in the Catherine Creek planning area year-round. Dogs are required to be on-leash in the Coyote/Burdoin planning areas December 1 - June 30.
While hikes like Dog Mountain offer wildflower showstoppers, no place in the Columbia Gorge offers the wildflower diversity and duration of Catherine Creek. Botanists flock here for months in the spring to enjoy the steady waves of wildflower blooms. Ironically, wildflowers are profuse at Catherine Creek because of the poor, shallow soil that does not allow grasses to come in and dominate the flowers. Prior to public ownership, the property was known as the Lauterbach Ranch where cattle heavily grazed the area. This was one of the Forest Service's early purchases following the passage of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Directions & Travel Tips

Catherine Creek Trailhead:  Cross the Hood River Bridge ($2 toll) and turn right on WA Highway 14. Drive 5.8 miles to Old Highway 8. Turn left on Old Highway 8, which is also County Road 1230. Drive east on this road (which is an earlier version of today's WA Highway 14) for about 1 1/2 miles to the gravel parking area on the left/north side of the road. The universal access trail takes off to the right/south (downhill from the road). The rock arch hike and others begin on left or north side of the road. Old Highway 8 continues eastward into Lyle, creating alternate routes to/from the east.