Mount Defiance
Central Gorge, Oregon
Mount Defiance trail (photographer: Kate Lindberg)
alert Trail Alert, May 27, 2020: Many trails in the Columbia Gorge are currently closed to the public due to the social distancing measures enacted by local and state health officials in Oregon and Washington. Friends of the Columbia Gorge is urging all members of the to public to stay local and give Gorge trails a break. If you can get to a neighborhood recreation spot by walking or biking, even better. Check the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department or Washington State Parks websites for additional information and breaking updates.

Hike Details
Out and back
12.2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:
4900 feet
Trail Features
Family Friendly:
Trailhead Pass:
Trail Details
WildflowersWaterfallWaterfallBeautiful Views
There are two routes up Mt. Defiance (aptly named) from the Starvation Creek Trailhead. This description takes you up the gentler of the two, although this is still an expert level trail. The hike parallels the highway westward for ~1 mile before the climbing begins. You will then gain almost 5000 feet in 6 miles to reach what is considered the highest point on the Columbia River Gorge.
This particular hike from the Gorge to the top is widely viewed as one of the most difficult hikes in the region. After about 15 switchbacks you will get a little break, then the climb continues the rest of the way up. When you're about a mile from the summit, you have the opportunity to take a loop trail to the west, which is highly recommended. It will afford the greatest view reward for all of your effort. You can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, as well as Larch Mountain, Chinidere Mountain, and Tomlike Mountain. Once you summit the mountain, take in the views from the top. Then return by descending the trail that brought you up. Be careful. The descent can be dangerously steep.
- Hike descriptions were collaboratively written with the generous support of
Please note: Depending on how far you hike from this trailhead, you may be entering the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. Wilderness restrictions apply.
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.