Catherine Creek Universal Access Loop
Eastern Gorge, Washington
Looking east from Catherine Creek (photographer: Debbie Asakawa)
Hike Details
1.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
50 feet
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
WildflowersBeautiful Views
The Catherine Creek area is widely known for its wildflowers. From the parking lot, the trail surface is paved and in good condition. This makes it a good option for strollers and wheelchairs, although the parking lot area is pretty rough. After getting on the trail, you'll come to an abandoned corral and a trail junction, which is the end of the loop. The trail weaves past several informational signs about the flowers and history of the area. In ~ 1/4 mile, you'll come to a viewpoint overlooking Catherine Creek Falls. The falls run all year, but are bound to be much fuller in the spring. From here, the trail drops down steeply and crosses a couple of wooden bridges. You'll pass the lower end of the shortcut trail which heads uphill to the right. At the base of the hill is a welcome bit of shade under a few oak trees. The trail now starts going gradually up. You'll go under a small bluff, and off to the left, you'll notice a fault in the underlying basalt. As the trail switches back toward the east, you'll pass the upper junction of the shortcut trail and soon, you'll be back to the first trail junction.
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.