Catherine Creek Hike
When summertime hits the Portland area, being outside and enjoying the glorious weather is a top priority for most people.
Once you leave Portland, and head east along the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll hit a plethora of hiking opportunities that will tickle your fancy. One hike in particular that’s located on the Washington side of the river is Catherine Creek. This hike is known for its spectacular views of the gorge, Mount Hood, and the wildflowers that grow in abundance along the hillside.
Pete and I took off one morning and decided to explore this part of the river. My trusty hiking guide book boasted about the breathtaking views and wildflowers along this route, and since Pete’s new to the area I figured this would be a good way to open his eyes to the Pacific Northwest’s beauty. The hike is about 4 miles long and set up as a loop, with roughly 900 feet in elevation change. I tend to prefer loop hikes versus out-and-back ones; they’re just more interesting, and I don’t feel like I’m backtracking or seeing the same sights on both legs of the hike.
At the trail head, Pete and I neglected to veer right towards the beginning of the hike. Instead, we followed a couple of yahoos (who we later learned didn’t know where they were going) to the left and hiked along a ragged, rocky path that had us climb about 1500-2000 feet straight up. My guide book is usually pretty accurate when it mentions the hike’s difficulty level, and I didn’t recall this being a difficult route. As we started to climb up and up and up, I questioned if we were on the correct path. We ended up walking across a beautiful, grassy meadow and perched ourselves up in an oak tree (away from the poison oak) for a serene, secluded lunch. We daydreamed about what it would be like to build a house near an oak grove like this, with a gorgeous meadow as our front lawn, and what it must have been like for Lewis and Clark when they first encountered this part of the Oregon Trail.
After we finished eating and daydreaming we packed up and headed back down the hill, curious at this point how we missed our intended trail. (One of the key things we wanted to see on this hike to Catherine Creek was an old homestead. How neat would it have been to see this?) All was not lost, however — the quality time together, and being outside on a lovely day, made up for any mishaps.