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Getting to Work at Catherine Creek

Posted by Rebecca Lavigne at May 07, 2012 11:30 AM |
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The past two weekends, Washington Trails Association kicked off the first of what promises to be many trail work parties at Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area.

If you aren’t familiar with the Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall areas in the Columbia Gorge, you’re missing out on one of the state's unique natural treasures. Just upstream from White Salmon on the Columbia River, you'll find rugged cliffs, Oregon white oak woodlands, wide open meadows and sweeping views. Endemic and rare wildflowers deliver spectacular springtime displays. A variety of animals call it home. Hikers are drawn here, along with mountain bikers and equestrians.

Last year, when the US Forest Service finalized plans to redevelop the network of user-built routes into an official trail system that would protect the area's remarkable biodiversity, they called on WTA to help. This spring WTA's SW Washington Regional Coordinator, Ryan Ojerio, started discussions with other trail user groups to prioritize and design trail redevelopment projects. "With so many different types of trail users it is essential that we collaborate," said Ojerio. "Good trail design is more than minimizing erosion and other resource damage; it's about creating a trail experience that people want to come back to, one that keeps them on the trail, and one that will be around for generations to come."

One trail that won't be around, however, is the popular "Coyote Wall Trail" that parallels the cliff wall near its base. Never sanctioned as an official route, this user-created trail traverses private property. The Forest Service is closing the trail and issuing citations to violators.

The past two weekends, WTA kicked off the first of several trail work parties in the area by focusing on a really muddy section through a wet meadow. We also started drafting the layout for future reroutes that we aim to begin next month

WTA's work at Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall is funded in part by a generous $15,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation (NFF). It's the latest effort in our partnership with NFF and the U.S. Forest Service to improve recreation opportunities on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Want to lend a hand? Check the WTA work party schedule in June for dates of work parties at Catherine Creek. In the Columbia River Gorge area, WTA will be working on the Augspurger and Cape Horn trails (the latter work was also funded by the NFF) in upcoming weeks.