Lancaster Falls
Central Gorge, Oregon
Lancaster Falls (photographer: Micheal Drewry)
Hike Details
Type:
Out and back
Distance:
1.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
100 feet
Difficulty:
Easy
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Yes
Restrooms:
Yes
Trailhead Pass:
No
Trail Details
WaterfallWaterfall

This new section of Historic Highway State Trail boasts views of three waterfalls in 1.2 miles! While these falls have always been accessible to hikers; now, for the first time, they are accessible from a paved, well-graded universal trail. The hike to Lancaster Falls is a westward out-and-back hike or bicycle ride. As it parallels I-84 you’ll pass over Warren Creek bridge to an overlook and picnicking spot at Hole-In-the-Wall Falls. The trail currently ends at Lancaster Falls, named for the Columbia River Highway’s designer and engineer, Samuel Lancaster. This waterfall is just visible from a viewpoint along the State Trail but for a better look at Lancaster Falls, take a hike up Starvation Ridge Trail. 

The Lancaster Falls trail connects with an existing 1.2-mile section of the State Trail that runs east from Starvation Creek Trailhead to Viento State Park making for a nice 5-mile hike or bike ride.

There are four waterfalls awaiting you in about a 1-mile stretch.  From east to west, they are: 

Distance from Starvation Creek Trailhead (approximate)
  • Starvation Creek Falls  (0.1 miles east)
  • Cabin Creek Falls  (0.3 miles west)
  • Hole-in-the-Wall Falls  (0.6 miles west)
  • Lancaster Falls  (0.8 miles west)
- Courtesy of Oregon State Parks
 
Other hikes leading from Starvation Creek Trailhead include:

Driving Directions

Starvation Creek Trailhead:  Traveling east on I-84, take Exit #55/Starvation Creek State Park and Rest Area (eastbound exit only). Traveling west on I-84, you'll continue past Exit #55 to Exit #51/Wyeth and come back east. The Starvation Ridge and Mt. Defiance trails begin at the west end of the parking lot by walking alongside the freeway. Starvation Creek Falls is east of the restrooms.

Community Connection

Lyle Cherry Orchard’s trailhead is located approximately one mile from the Gorge town of Lyle and is home to the “Lyle” sign that sits above the community. Since this preserve was opened to the public the Lyle Cherry Orchard has provided the community with an accessible natural space right in their back yard. The sunny and dry preserve is the perfect hiking spot to visit during the rainier fall days in the western gorge. Visitors from the Gorge and beyond recreate on Lyle Cherry Orchard and in turn support the local economy.

Photo: View of town of Lyle from Lyle Cherry Orchard (Debbie Asakawa)

Preserve Story

The property where Lyle Cherry Orchard Preserve lies currently was once grazing land for cattle and as the name suggests the eastern part of the preserve held a cherry orchard. The orchard and its trees were well abandoned by the time Nancy Russell purchased the property piece by piece in the 1990’s and later donated it to Friends in 2009. Nancy purchased the property when it came up for sale because it was within key viewing areas on the Oregon side of the Gorge and would have most likely become subdivided for development.

The land is also home to remnants of Lyle Convict Road, a demonstration road built by Sam Hill to convince Washington legislators to fund a Columbia River Highway. When Washington showed no interest in Sam’s project, he invited the entire Oregon legislature to his Maryhill estate to see his "Good Roads" work and Oregon quickly agreed to build on their side of the river what is today the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The trail at Lyle Cherry Orchard was started in when Friends' founder Nancy Russell purchased the property and has been open to the public and maintained Friends and its land trust ever since. In 2019, Washington Trails Association started work to reroute some parts of the trail and add new trail to explore for the benefit of Gorge residents.

In 2013, the land trust and volunteers removed a dilapidated house and outbuildings on the southwestern end of the property. Countless hours were spent removing building materials, old vehicles, garbage, and debris. In 2015 volunteers removed over 1,700 feet of fencing material on the property to allow for the free movement of wildlife across the landscape. Without the help of Friends volunteers and Gorge community members, projects like this would not be possible.

Photos: Before and after cleanup at Lyle Cherry Orchard (Friends' archive)