This family-friendly classic hike has perhaps the most photo ops per mile than any other hike in the Gorge. You can check out a natural rock arch, see a variety of terrain, take in sweeping views of the Columbia River, and enjoy early-spring wildflower displays.
Begin at the Catherine Creek trailhead. The trail takes off on the north side of the road; go around the green gate then go right on the primitive road marked “021.” After a short distance on exposed bedrock, the road veers to the left and down into a ravine to follow Catherine Creek. As you near the creek, there is grassy road taking off to the left. Stay right and cross the creek on a plank bridge.
After the creek crossing, the road enters a park-like setting with Catherine Creek on the left and the basalt wall of the canyon on the right. You will soon come to an abandoned cattle chute on the left and the base of the natural arch on the right. The base of the arch is surrounded by a pole fence and is marked as an environmentally sensitive area. You cannot access the very base of the arch. Be sure to take pictures of the arch from several viewpoints to get the most dramatic images. The road heads uphill after leaving the arch. The best views will be behind you, so occasionally turn around to enjoy them.
The road forks after going into the woods from a grassy area. Go to the right and follow the road as it nears power lines. Under the power lines you will come to a U.S. Forest Service trail off to the right. Leave the road and take the trail uphill. The trail breaks out into an open grassy area, meanders a bit, and then parallels the top of the cliffs above Catherine Creek. You will also get another opportunity the view the Arch, but this time from above. The top of the arch is surrounded by a pole fence and is marked as an environmentally sensitive area. You cannot access the top of the arch to see or take pictures down through the arch. Along this portion of the hike, you will find the sweeping views of the river with the spring-time profusion of wildflowers.
After leaving the cliffs, follow the trail as it descends towards the roadway. The trail here goes up and down rocky mounds, providing variety in the downhill trek. The trail crosses the creek over a log footbridge, merges with road "020" about 100 yards further on, and returns you to the green gate and parking area.
If you want to extend your visit, head over to the south side of the road to hike the short Catherine Creek Universal Access Trail.
WTA Pro Tip: To extend this family-friendly adventure, consider stopping in at Granny’s Gedunk Ice Cream Parlor in Stevenson for an old fashioned waffle cone, sundae, shake or popcorn.