Hike Distance: 6.9 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 513.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1774 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 58997 feet
Our main reason for coming to this area was to escape the rain forecast for the Willamette Valley. We also love to visit the drier climate east of the Cascade mountains. We parked at the Catherine Creek Day Use Area off of Old Hwy 8. The parking area was almost full but we managed to grab a parking spot!
We headed north on the trail and quickly crossed the foot bridge over Catherine Creek. The water was high and running fast. We quickly looped around and headed toward the Catherine Creek Arch. Some flowers were out, and there were plenty of people seeking to visit this area.
We were not in the mood to see so many people and decided to head north, and climb up the syncline toward Tracy Hill. Our real goal was to reach the top of a very large grassy meadow, and loop around and then head back to our vehicle. Unfortunately, we ended up following a game trail, which brought us to thick brush, so we made a smaller loop, which headed south, to find the correct trail. We found what we thought was the correct trail, but this ended up leading to the same turn around point. Where was the trail that lead up the syncline?
Just before turning around and heading back down the syncline we saw another hiker take what seemed like the trail we had been searching for! It wasn’t obvious this was the trail, but it didn’t take long before we knew this was the correct trail! As we climbed up the syncline we noticed huge storm clouds building north of us. We weren’t deterred and kept climbing up until we reached the loop intersection we sought. At the top of this loop turning point the views are expansive and breathtaking! Looking east the Columbia River offers gorgeous scenery. We could even see the base of Mt. Hood, through the storm clouds!!
We talked with the man that showed us the correct path and had a nice conversation. Noticing the storm clouds were heading our way, I put on my rain pants. The trail we used ran parallel to Major Creek, and is the eastern most trail at Catherine Creek. We started to look for the intersection that would return us to a trail that led to our car, but didn’t find it. So, we had to bushwack across a field containing high grass and a creek crossing. My main concern is that this is an area with a huge number of Ticks. 😦 We used the GPS and quickly found the cut-in to the trail we wanted. I later found out we were way off from the intersection we wanted to take.
We returned back to our car in a relatively quick time. I should mention that we only saw a few people on the remainder of our hike, and it was awesome. We didn’t get any Ticks, and our Insect Shield clothing protected us well. Also, there were only a few raindrops that fell on us. A truly wonderful day. 🙂