Lower Starvation Loop Hike in the Columbia Gorge

This beautiful hike in the Columbia River Gorge starts at the Starvation Creek Trailhead and winds west along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. You’ll find yourself walking parallel to I-84 for a bit, then the path hits the Starvation Cutoff Trail, where you’ll turn left and trek up the hill. (Note that this is an easy junction to miss – so keep an eye out for it).

Past the junction the hike gets tougher. It’s a steep ascent, with few switchbacks, and few trees. But while it's a tough section to hike it only lasts 4/10 of a mile long. It’s also the hardest part of the hike, so everything else will feel like a stroll.

At the summit, you’ll find that the trail intersects the Starvation Ridge Trail. You’ll take a right and continue across Cabin Creek. Here the beauty of the Columbia Gorge starts to reward, with viewpoints, meadows that are lush with flowers in the warmer months, and sweeping views of the tree-covered landscape on surrounding hills. If you’re hiking in spring or summer, whip out your field guide and see if you can identity wildflowers like Indian Paintbrush, Chocolate Lilies, Shooting Star, Glacier Lily, Buttercups and Rosy Plectritis – they all bloom in abundance here.

Picnic in the meadow, or keep hiking until you hit the Warren Creek Crossing. This is a watery barrier with no bridge, and while during most months it’s easy to “log and rock hop,” be careful when rainfall or snowmelt bumps up the water level. Past the crossing you’ll hit the junction with the Mount Defiance Trail (which is a doozy of a hike for adventurers with endurance).

You’ll take this trail up a short way until you round the bend to Lancaster Falls. It’s a lovely two-tier falls which has a lower level that splashes directly onto the trail. You can admire the water feature from below, or head to the top with a little off-trail scrambling. When you're done here, head back the way you came to the last trail junction.

Follow the Mount Defiance trail downwards toward the trailhead. You’ll soon encounter Hole-in-the-Wall Falls, the newest waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s a somewhat human-made waterfall as it was created by maintenance workers on the Columbia River Highway. In 1938 it was decided that the repeated flooding at Warren Creek was causing issues. By blasting a pipe-like channel through the rock, Warren Creek was “diverted” and Hole-in-Wall-Falls was born.

Continue beyond this waterfall and you’ll find the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail once again. The hike ends here at Cabin Creek Falls, which is only 3/10 of a mile from the Starvation Creek Trailhead parking lot.

Directions to the Starvation Creek Trailhead from Portland are simple:

Take I-84 east, and then take Exit #55 Starvation Creek State Park and Rest Area. There’s a parking lot at the trailhead.

Region(s):
Central Oregon
Eastern Oregon
Greater Portland
The Gorge + Mt. Hood
Oregon Coast
Southern Oregon
Willamette Valley

Public discussion (1)

Rick reynolds 96dpi

Rick

5 months ago

Love this hike in the Columbia Gorge--and so true that it's so easy to get to from Portland. Thanks for posting it on ShareOregon, Nastacia!

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