Backpacker Magazine Portland, OR: Mount Defiance 

Make a weekend out of this 18-mile trip that boasts a string of waterfalls, summit views, and lakeside camping in the Columbia Gorge.

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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 20 Mar 2008 3:18:02 PM
Activity: Backpacking
State: Oregon (OR)
Distance: 18 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 6580 ft
Total Loss: 6618 ft
Net Change: -38 ft
Difficulty: 8 / 10
USGS Topo Map: Mount Defiance, Carson
Tags: Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, Oregon, Portland, Reader Hike of the Month, Waterfall Hikes
Rating:   3 rating(s) Rate it

Just an hour from Portland, Oregon, lies a wonderland of rugged cliffs, old-growth forests, and as many waterfalls as there are bends in the trail. Sample the best of it on this challenging 18-mile.

On day one, follow the Mt. Defiance Trail from Starvation Creek State Park, nine miles west of Hood River (leave a shuttle car at the Herman Creek trailhead, two miles east of Cascade Locks). Keep your camera handy—you'll pass three falls within a mile of the trailhead, plus dense patches of lupine. In another half mile, the route passes Cabin Creek Falls and Hole-in-the-Wall Falls—the latter a tiered, whitewater ribbon flowing down mossy, 100-foot cliffs. Then climb a forested ridge overlooking Wonder Creek to the rock-strewn summit of 4,960-foot Mt. Defiance. Expect serious steeps and switchbacks as you gain 4,500 feet of elevation in roughly four miles.

From Defiance's summit, you'll see a multitude of peaks. Mt. Hood, 20 miles away, dominates the southern view. From the summit, it's 2.5 miles to tent sites at North Lake. Pitch your tent facing southwest for up-close views of Green Point Mountain.

Day two combines a descent of Nick Eaton Ridge, with great views of the Gorge, and a traverse above Herman Creek. Expect minimal foot traffic and an abundance of old-growth cedar and fir as you navigate the final ten miles, passing lush side canyons, chanterelle mushrooms, and cascading creeks, to the Herman Creek Trailhead.

-Mapped by Joe Kurmaskie

TO TRAILHEAD: Start: I-84 E to exit 55 (follow signs for Starvation Creek Trailhead). Go 0.2 mile to parking. End: I-84 E to exit 44 (toward Cascade Locks). Merge onto US 30 E/WA-na-PA St. In 1.5 miles, continue on SE Frontage Rd. In 1.3 miles, bear left onto NE Forest Ln. Go 0.4 mile to Herman Creek Campground (parking on right).

Position Format: Datum:

Mount Defiance

Distance: 17.63 mi Points: 1042
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Mount Defiance

Points of Interest

30 Points of Interest in this trip

Location: Unknown


Location: Unknown
From cul-de-sac lot, hop on the paved multiuse trail that parallels the highway.


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