Some days getting in on an easier hike is exactly what you need and others you’d like something a little bit tougher. For both, Catherine Creek fits the bill perfectly. Sitting midways up the wall of the Columbia River Gorge and just six miles east of Bingen, Washington, Catherine Creek trail offers the moderate upper trail taking off to the north and the easy lower trail heading south. Both are fun and come with amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge.
The lower trail comes complete with a paved walkway and a bench here and there. This short hike/walk is breathtaking to say the least. Of course, I’m not sure if there are any hikes in the Columbia River Gorge that are not breathtaking. A person could make it a quick walk or you could stroll lazily, taking it all in while soaking up some sun and fully utilizing the park benches along the way. We took the stroll on Mother’s Day. Sherri and I walked while Aurora biked along with us. The wildflower bloom was still going full-bore this particular mid-May, as expected.
For those who’d like a bit more of a birds-eye view coupled with a good elevation gain and the leg workout that comes with it, the upper trail is perfect for you. From the same parking area as the lower trail you get to trek up and across a creek. The main trail weaves up a draw near the creek through rock formations then follows an open ridgeline providing breath-taking views of the Gorge. With each step the views get better and better. Soon you will near the tree-line and sitting there just as pretty as can be is the cute little wood bench that somebody who must love this spot set up for all to enjoy. This is where you break out the PBJ as a hiking reward. Sit back, relax for a bit and soak it all in.
One special thing I like about this particular trail is the amount of morning sun it receives. If you are ambitious, hop out of bed early and hit the trail at the crack of dawn. You will be rewarded beyond description. Early Spring is prime-time for wildflowers in the Gorge.
The upper trail section has a couple of different choices for hikes so if you want to take it a bit easier, or even go a bit longer you certainly can. No matter which one you choose, you’ll have a great time.
Things to know:
*Catherine Creek trail is located six miles east of Bingen, Washington on the Old Hwy 8.
*As of this publication the USFS site says “no fee” but I thought I needed a parking pass. Maybe/maybe not.
*Trail is open year-round.
*Great spot for family photos.
Enjoy your hike at Catherine Creek and never hesitate to pop me a note and ask a question about this hike or other fun stuff in the Columbia River Gorge.
Mark Zoller – MarkZ@ZooRaft.com