hike: Catherine Creek – Rowland Basin loop

When spring wildflowers are blooming, the Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall areas are popular with hikers. To avoid crowds, consider this loop hike located between these two areas.

distance: 4.9 miles
elevation gain:  1,300 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: February-May
drive time from Portland: 1 hour 30 minutes
parking pass: none
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin Loop Hike

The Hike

Starting at the Catherine Creek trailhead, we took a former road on the left and headed up a grassy slope.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

The Catherine Creek arch came into view as we hiked up.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Desert parsley was in bloom throughout the hike. The plant below was just getting started… it’s interesting that the flowers are yellow but look purple just before they bloom.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

View to the west, with Mount Hood barely visible under the clouds.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Hiking up through open grassy meadows as we head towards the power lines.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Shooting stars filled small areas along the way.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Big views of the Columbia River, looking east.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

The hike goes through several wooded areas, and this section of forest with Douglas-firs looked more like parts of the Western Gorge than the typical Eastern Gorge scrub oak forest.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

At the high point of our hike, we took advantage of an opening in the trees with big views to stop for a long lunch break.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

View through Ponderosa pines

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

This loop hike travels across open grassy fields, into scrub oak forest, and back again several times.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Now in the upper section of Coyote Wall area trails, we took the Upper Labyrinth Trail to head back towards Catherine Creek.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Layers of chunky basalt in the Rowland Basin section of the hike

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

This was the only section of the hike with Balsamroot in bloom.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

Crossing a talus slope on the way back to the trailhead

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

As we closed the loop, we crossed through a wet area with several springs.

Catherine Creek-Rowland Basin loop hike

We were a bit early for wildflowers on this day, but it was nice to not have as many ticks or poison oak to contend with.