Hood River gets all of the attention and rightly so. However, the Washington side of the Gorge is perfect for a day in the sun with your kiddos. My son and I love hiking at Catherine Creek. It is twenty minutes east of Hood River and very kid friendly. The terrain is open and not very steep. There are many trails to choose from and plenty of opportunities to throw rocks into a creek or build rock art. But the best keep secret is the frog ponds. Slimy, mucky wonderful frog ponds. This time of year you can see frog eggs, tadpoles and listen for frog songs. There is slime to pick up with sticks and waterskippers observe. It’s the perfect spot for a junior biologist. If that’s not enough, every time I go there I have seen eagles and osprey in abundance. Best of all, it can be cloudy and raining in Portland and sunny, sunny at Catherine Creek. Worth the hour and 20 minute drive, wouldn’t you say? If you think that sounds fun, it gets better. Just down the road is several fabulous wineries. Now Mama get her treat. Syncline (YUMMMM), Cor and Domian Pouillion are just short jaunt from Catherine Creek. I like to start with Domian Pouillion and end at Syncline Winery. Syncline has wine by the glass and has a lovely area to have a picnic. The wine makers at Syncline have children of their own and the tasting room is kid friendly. Plus they have chickens, tractors and a friendly dog.
If you are still hungry and thirsty, Solstice Pizza in Bingen and Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon are both terrific. The food and beer at Everybody’s is outstanding. The deck at Everybody’s has a view of Mt. Hood. Solstice has a small kids area and a good menu as well.
So the next time you need an adventure, head east of Hood River and enjoy sun, wine and fun for the whole family.
Go Play Outside,
From Portland, drive east on I-84 to Hood River. Cross the Hood River Bridge and turn right on Washington Highway 14. Drive through Bingen and continue about 4 1/2 miles to Old Highway 8. Turn left on Old Highway 8, which is also County Road 1230. Drive east on this road for about 1 1/2 mile to the trailhead. To find the frog ponds, take the trail to the left on the north side of the Hwy. To play in the creek, head up the trail on the right. Have a kid in a stroller, no problem. There is a paved trail on the south side of the road.
The wineries are off the Old Hwy 8. To get better directions, refer to www.columbiagorgewine.com