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Lower Starvation Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

A hiker rests at one of the lower viewpoints on the Starvation Ridge Trail (Jeff Smith)
Wildflower meadows on Starvation Ridge Trail (Steve Hart)
View from Starvation Ridge Trail (Steve Hart)
Lancaster Falls (Steve Hart)


Hike Description

NOTICE: Most trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge are closed until further notice because of damage from the Eagle Creek Fire. The closure involves ALL trails between Rooster Rock State Park and Hood River. It is anticipated that most of these trails may not reopen until Spring or Summer 2018. Please check the list of Columbia Gorge trail closures before you plan for a hike.

This is a hike for those that haven't the time or the stamina to do Mount Defiance. This gives you a quick sample of what the big hill is like, as well as views and waterfalls. As with most Gorge trails, watch for poison oak in open areas, and especially forest margins - it crowds the trail in several spots, but is easily avoided if you can identify it. This hike is also categorized as not family friendly, due to some sheer drops along the way. Dog enthusiasts should leash their pets for the same reason. A final caveat is that highway noise is noticeable at several points along the way, but the combination of great scenery and interesting features makes it easy to ignore the occasional noise.

From the Starvation Creek Trailhead, head west on the Historic Columbia River Highway that runs next to the freeway. In 2/10 mile you come to a junction with the Starvation Cutoff Trail #414B. Turn left here and head up the hill. There are a lot of comments to be made about various trails, but this little bugger is just brutal. It's safe enough and fortunately it's only 4/10 of a mile long. The real problem is that only 3 of those tenths are sideways, the other one is straight up. The trail switchbacks through the trees gaining a foot in elevation every stride. It's best to just buckle down and deal with it, and going up this trail is infinitely easier than going down it - for many hikers, it's downright scary to descend, and therefore the uphill direction described here is strongly encouraged! The rest of the hike is a cakewalk once you've covered this section.

At the top, you'll find a junction with the Starvation Ridge Trail #414. The main route heads right, to a pleasant crossing of Cabin Creek. But take a moment to head left for 150 yards, to a stunning overlook, just off the trail at the next switchback. From this airy perch, you will be able to look down and see your car, and have broad vistas up and down the Gorge. After taking in the view, retrace your steps back to the junction, and continue on toward Cabin Creek. You've got a tiny bit of better graded climbing beyond Cabin Creek, but you're rewarded with another beautiful viewpoint of the Columbia River Gorge, just off the trail after you've passed under the powerlines. There's lots of room, but stay back from the edge. A fall from here would be fatal.

Continuing on, the trail begins a gentle descent through meadows that bloom like crazy in the spring. Look for Indian Paintbrush, Chocolate Lilies, Shooting Star, Glacier Lily, Buttercups and Rosy Plectritis here. If your lucky, you might spot eagles or ospreys flying in the area, as well. The trail drops elevation pretty steadily to the Warren Creek Crossing. In early spring, Warren Creek is big enough that a bridge would be nice, but you'll have to make due with a log and rock hop, so use care. When you crest the next little point beyond the creek, look up to a power line tower on the ridge for a large osprey nest. The trail continues down to another trail junction, this time with the Mount Defiance Trail.

Turn left here and head up the Mount Defiance Trail a short distance to Lancaster Falls. The lower tier splashes almost directly on to the trail, but the best views up the upper tier are only visible by scrambling. When you're done here, head back the way you came to the last trail junction. Continue down the Mount Defiance Trail toward the trailhead. Soon you'll pass Hole in the Wall Falls and then you'll return to the old highway. Finally, Cabin Creek Falls makes a good place to wind down your day only 3/10 of a mile from your car.

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • None

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A


Splintercat's map of this hike (the loop is described clockwise) StarvationLoopTrailMapSmall.jpg


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.