Hike 59
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Catherine Creek - Major Creek Overlook Hike
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Map of Catherine Creek - Major Creek Overlook Hike

Length: 7 miles RT
Elevation Change: 1550 feet
Season:   Late winter thru late fall
Difficulty:   Challenging
Permit:   Pass Not Required
GPS:   N45 42.6282, W121 21.7284
Latitude:   45.71047
Longitude:   -121.36214

 Click for PDF Topo Map of this Hike 

Catherine Creek and its various hiking options is one of the most treasured places in the Columbia River Gorge. Its value lies not only in the great vistas one can enjoy while hiking here, but its most important asset is the fact that this is the place we all wait for all winter long. Because, this is the place where the spring flowers come out first, at least on a grand scale.

And as each week after the first or March comes and goes, so do the wonderful floral displays at this unique and beautiful place. One could hike here each week of March, April, and May and never see the same floral displays. Of course, the weather and moisture can vary this statement, but for the most part it is true! Come and see. For this review, I am suggesting a fairly less common approach to hiking at Catherine Creek.

One could park at the usual place where everyone parks, or one could drive just a bit further east and park at the first gated road on the left. This road is the beginning of the trail that I am defining in this review. Park in front of the gate to one side making room for others, and begin hiking up the road. In about a half mile, the main road will break off and head west. You just keep going straight ahead, climbing along the eastern escarpment of the Catherine Creek sincline.

The trail/road will jog a bit to the left (west) as it skirts private land. Nevetheless, the trail continues climbing along the west side of Major Creek. As you climb the views just keep getting better and better. Depending on the weather and the season, you will be treated to magnificent views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood looming to the south. At about 3 miles the trail will take you through an oak forest then out in the open again. Here you can walk westward toward Catherine Creek, then follow the ridge downhill to complete the loop you began.

View looking east from the Major Creek - Catherine Creek Overlook trail
View looking east from the Major Creek
Catherine Creek Overlook trail

How to get there:

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.

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