Mount Defiance trail (photographer: Kate Lindberg)
Trail Description Driving DirectionsThere 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 oregonhikers.org.
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:
- Hole-in-the-Wall Falls
- Lancaster Falls
- Starvation Creek Falls
- Starvation Creek Ridge Loop
- Starvation Creek to Warren Lake
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- Type: Out and back
- Distance: 12.2 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 4900 feet
- Difficulty: Expert
- Family Friendly: No
- Restrooms: Yes
- Trailhead Pass: No
Gorge Trailhead Passes Guide
Preserve the Wonder Hike Challenge
This spring’s hike challenge highlights the many wonders of the Gorge.