Catherine Creek Labyrinth
Eastern Gorge, Washington
The Labyrinth at Catherine Creek. (photographer: Don Jacobson)
Hike Details
Type:
Out and back
Distance:
4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
1000 feet
Difficulty:
Moderate
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
No
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
WildflowersBeautiful Views
COVID-19 advisory from our partner Ready, Set, GOrge! (readysetgorge.com): 

Increased visitation puts increased pressure on the Gorge’s limited resources.  If you’re planning a trip to our region, please help keep our communities safe by following CDC and local health guidelines and respecting the requests of individual businesses. Please plan before you go and always have a Plan B in case your destination is too crowded or closed. When recreating on trails, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other hikers and bikers.
 



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On the Trail

The Labyrinth is a maze of basalt outcroppings in a landscape stripped bare by the Missoula Floods. The thin soils built up since then support an explosion of spring wildflowers, making this a popular early-season Gorge hike. Labyrinth Creek, its waterfall, photogenic towers of columnar basalt, and a panorama of riveting views make this a hike not to miss.

A moderately challenging out-and-back hike, it covers 4 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

Permits & Pets

The area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. No passes are required. Dogs are required to be leashed from December 1 to June 30. We recommend always keeping your dog leashed to protect the sensitive landscape and respect other hikers.

Trail Notes

  • Trails in this part of Catherine Creek and west to Coyote Wall are heavily used in spring by hikers and mountain bikers, along with rock climbers ascending the cliffs. Poison oak, present here in large shrubs, is rampant. Stay on the trails to avoid it.
  • From the parking area, walk west on an abandoned stretch of Old Hwy 8 that nature is reclaiming. Cross Lower Labyrinth Falls. Turn right at the Labyrinth Trail (Trail 4423). Keep right at a junction to enter the Labyrinth’s maze. Pass under a ponderosa pine to drop into a hollow and follow Labyrinth Creek up past where it plunges through a narrow passage on the right. Pass Labyrinth Cave on the left. A side trail offers a better view of Labyrinth Falls.
  • Switchback up twice to view Labyrinth Falls’ upper tier, then cross Labyrinth Creek on a single-plank bridge. Hike up under oaks and through a meadow under a tower of columnar basalt known as Accordion Rock (and to local climbers as Wankers Columns). To the left, Labyrinth Creek funnels through another gorge. Enter an oak wood carpeted with lupine, buttercups, and poison oak.
  • Exit the woods, and wind up to a T-junction at a fence and telephone line. Go left (the trail to the right is unofficial). Head up the slope, to views upriver to the Columbia Hills on the Washington side. Swing right to pass under the phone line and through the fence line to get a vista down to Rowland Lake—not an actual lake but a portion of the Columbia River impounded by the rail line and SR 14.
  • Reach the Labyrinth-Upper Labyrinth-Desert Parsley Trail junction (unsigned in February 2018), and go left up the grassy slope through clumps of poison oak. Cross a trickling creek, and rise to the Rowland Basin Viewpoint at a grassy picnic spot with sweeping views east to the Columbia Hills in Washington; Stacker Butte is the hill with the radio towers. Looking across the river to Oregon, the view continues from Seven Mile Hill, to Rowena Crest Overlook, Tom McCall Point, and the Memaloose Hills. Views west include the Labyrinth, Mount Defiance, and Mount Hood.
  • Scan the skies for soaring vultures, red-tailed hawks, and bald eagles. After admiring the scenery, return downhill by the same route.
  • Please always stay on the trail and clean your boots before and after you hike. Hikers and their dogs are common vectors for spreading invasive seeds.
  • A portable toilet is at the Catherine Creek trailhead, 1.5 miles east on Old Hwy 8.

Post-Hike Explorations

See the other Catherine Creek hikes for post-hike ideas. Or head into Hood River, Oregon, for a meal on the riverfront, in downtown, or on the Heights. From spring to fall, watch windsurfers and kiteboarders at the Event Site, a watersports hub. Have a swim off the sandbar or rent a kayak and explore the boat basin.

Other Hikes at or Near This Trailhead



Directions & Travel Tips

From the Hood River Bridge (tolls are required on the bridge), drive SR 14 east 5.8 miles and turn left onto Old Highway 8. Immediately turn left and park at the west side of the intersection of SR 14 and Old Hwy 8.