Wildflower Viewing Areas in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington

Catherine Creek

Autumn view of the arch at Catherine Creek, Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area

View of the arch amidst the late fall color at Catherine Creek.


Take Washington State Road 14 east of Bingen, WA to about milepost 71. Turn left on County Road 1230 (the Old Highway), which runs between basalt cliffs on the west and a lake on the right. Proceed about 1.4 miles to a rough gravel parking lot on the north (left) side. This is a popular place, and parking may be tight. Car pool if possible. I believe this is a site which requires a parking pass from the National Scenic Area.


Proceed west through Lyle, WA and cross the Klickitat River. Turn right on the first road after the bridge. Travel upward on a twisting road for about 1.2 miles. Near the top of the hill are two rights. Don't take these! At the top of the hill, the road straightens out and parallels the Columbia River along a relatively flat plateau. Proceed for about 4 more miles, crossing Major Creek (another nice wildflower walk) and then Catherine Creek. The parking lot will be on the right (north side).

Neither a Northwest Forest Pass nor a Washington Discover Pass are required for parking at the trailhead.

From mid-March into early May, the parking lot is full by 9:30am on weekends, and often during midweek.

The nearest restroom facilities are along State Road 14 at the Chamberlain Lake Safety Rest Area. This is about 3.2 miles east of the County Road 1230 entrance to Catherine Creek. From March to September, there is usually a port-a-potty at the trailhead, although it can get pretty disgusting by mid-afternoon on Sundays due to heavy use.

Trails below the parking area are paved and have interpretive signs. Trails above the parking area diverge either west towards a trail heading up Rowland Rim (bikes can be on it as of 2016) or towards the lower part of the basalt arch. Plans for a hiker bridge across Catherine Creek and trail for easier acces to the trail along the rim above the arch are planned, perhaps with construction in 2018?

Catherine Creek is a unique natural area which gets quite a bit of use. There are numerous wildflowers to see from early March to mid summer. In addition, a natural basalt arch may be viewed about 1/4 mile up the canyon above the old homestead. The habitats include riparian, grassy basalt scablands, and mixed oak and Ponderosa Pine forests. Beware of the dense thickets of poison oak, be alert for the possibility of rattlesnakes, and check yourself for ticks during the moister spring months.

Oak forest at Catherine Creek

Lichen covered trees early in spring at Catherine Creek.

Comprehensive Plant List for Catherine Creek

Plant Lists For Catherine Creek:

April 13, 2016

February 23, 2016

March 3, 2015

May 2, 2014

April 8, 2014

April 2, 2014

March 12 & 19, 2014

March 12 & 17, 2013

April 3 & 7, 2012: Slopes between Catherine Creek and Minor Creek

March 3, 2012

May 20, 2011

April 17, 2011

April 8, 2011

March 12, 2011

March 7, 2011

January 22, 2011: Catherine Creek to Coyote Wall. Near 60 degree day.

June 21, 2010

May 27, 2010

May 1 & 5, 2010

March 13, 2010

February 15, 2010

April 11, 2009

March 16, 2007

April 14, 2007

July 7, 2006

June 3, 2006

May 14, 2006: Small vernal creek (Minor Creek) on the east side of Catherine Creek

April 9, 2006

March 11, 2006: Botany in the snow!

April 9, 2005

February 26, 2005

May 9, 2004

March 27, 2004

April 19, 2003

March 30, 2003

March 1, 2003

April 14, 2002

April 6, 2002

March 22, 2002

March 10, 2001

March 4, 2001

May 13, 2000

April 16, 2000

March 23, 2000

March 5, 2000

March 7, 1999

March 8, 1998

April 27, 1997

Paul Slichter