Easy (3 short hikes)
4.1 miles round trip
600 feet elevation gain
Open all year
Use: hikers, bicycles
The first of these three easy hikes follows a paved loop past views of the Columbia Gorge from the Dalles to Hood River. A second hike climbs through Catherine Creek’s park-like valley to a natural rock arch. The third walk explores a nearby hillside where mysterious pits in a rockslide are believed to honor the spirits of Indian dead. In the Catherine Creek area, dogs must be on leash.
Because the trails are so short, it’s easy to do them all in a day. If you love wildflowers, you might time your visit to catch the peak displays: grass widows in mid March, blue camas in mid April, and yellow balsamroot in early May.
Start by driving...
Northwest Indians often built small rock-rimmed meditation sites in places where spirits were thought to be powerful, including many mountain peaks. Young men would fast in such locations in the hopes of receiving a spirit vision to guide their adult life. Are the pits here vision quest sites? Perhaps, since they overlook the Columbia River’s Memaloose Island. Memaloose means “dead” in the language of the Chinook Indians who once lived here, and the island was an important burial site and spiritual center for that powerful rivergoing tribe.