The second weekend of the New Year I headed to the east side of the Columbia River Gorge to see if some colorful birds and mule deer could be spotted. My goal was to explore the Catherine Creek area in Washington about 65 miles from home. Like Coyote Wall, the area is a tilted basalt formation extending a few miles north of the Gorge, rising to around 2,300 feet above sea level.
It was a spectacular day – – – sunshine, little wind and temperatures in the mid to high-30’s.
I began hiking northeast from the parking area, following a rough trail through the grasslands. After walking a few hundred feet, I began hearing jays and other small birds. They always make my hikes much more enjoyable. Many times I am unable to spot them, but their chatter and pretty songs provide plenty of company.
Within one-third mile of the Trailhead, I found a footbridge over Catherine Creek. After crossing it, I continued to an old corral below a natural arch carved out of the basalt cliffs.
To the north, Catherine Creek cut a north-south deep canyon through the basalt. After reaching the top of the rimrock cliffs, I marvelled at the desert-like scenery to the east along the Columbia River. After enjoying the views I recrossed the footbridge and explored the area west of the creek, spotting bald eagles and many small songbirds. Then I crossed the road and did a short loop on a paved path past a small waterfall on Catherine Creek.
The trek made for a nice outing of roughly five miles with 900 feet of elevation gain.