Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Camp Benson Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Camp Benson Falls, on Summit Creek (bobcat)
Dog Mountain from the Historic Columbia River Highway (bobcat)
Picnic table and Hole in the Wall Falls (bobcat)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), Historic Columbia River Highway (bobcat)
Near the 2019 viewpoint, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (bobcat)
The route using the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail to reach Camp Benson Falls (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Starvation Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Camp Benson Falls
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 430 feet
  • High point: 460 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Poison-Oak

Contents

Hike Description

This hike on the newest section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail takes you past a couple of well-known waterfalls and then beyond the crowds to a viewpoint above the Columbia River. From the paved trail, you can take a powerline maintenance track to a view of pretty Camp Benson Falls (sometimes called Lower Summit Creek Falls) on Summit Creek, best seen from mid-fall to mid-spring. The walking is easy here and suitable for most family groups who can make the five-mile round trip.

Begin hiking west next to the freeway on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Views extend to the the twin microdioritic intrusions of Shellrock Mountain and Wind Mountain as well as Dog Mountain right across the river. You'll enter shady maple woods, and look down to see markers dedicating this restored section of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Then pass the Historic Columbia River Highway-Starvation Ridge Cutoff Trail Junction. In spring, candy flower blooms profusely alongside the paved surface. Reach two-tiered, 220-foot Cabin Creek Falls, where a huge fallen basalt boulder creates an almost hidden amphitheater. The waterfall sprays directly into this hidden area.

The Historic Columbia River Highway heads back out to the freeway under a Douglas-fir/big-leaf maple canopy. At an open area, arrive at the Historic Columbia River Highway-Mount Defiance Trail Junction. Turn left here on a paved trail that passes through a circular picnic area. The Mount Defiance Trail picks up its normal tread here, and 95-foot Hole in the Wall Falls can be viewed from the picnic circle. This waterfall is an unusual manmade affair. Highway crews drilled a tunnel through the rock and diverted Warren Creek here in 1938 to resolve issues with the creek undermining the highway. The water emerges from a lengthy tunnel and immediately falls, creating the waterfall. Hikers looking for a little more historical interest can follow the old creek bed up to the left a little to the original location of Warren Falls, which now runs only in a big rainstorm.

Return to Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, and bear left to reach the Warren Creek Bridge, opened in 2016 but emulating the style of the old highway bridges. A couple of ponderosa pines at the west end of the bridge remind us that we are, indeed, in the east Gorge! Pass a circular rock rest area on the left, and then reach the freeway again, with Lindsey Pond to your right. Pass a road track leading up the slope to the powerline corridor. From the paved trail, you'll get more fine views of Dog Mountain, and reach the crossing of Lindsey Creek. A new (2019) stretch of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail begins to rise above the freeway. (Also, just upstream, but out of sight, is Harrison Falls.) At an elevated viewpoint, you see straight across to Dog Mountain and downriver to Wind Mountain. Views also extend upriver to Mitchell Point. The pavement keeps rising gradually to where it is crossed by a gravel powerline maintenance road.

Hike up the road and emerge from the woods at the powerline corridor, where the road splits. To the left the road rises to a pylon from where you can bushwhack up Lindsey Creek and then descend to a brushy, log-filled, trackless bottomland to burrow your way up to Lindsey Creek Falls. Bear right at the junction to head west under the powerlines. The road veers left to enter the woods below a sword fern slope. A low concrete wall bounds the road for a short distance on the uphill side. Soon the road splits again. Turn right to drop to the powerline corridor and get a view of 90-foot Camp Benson Falls from above. The waterfall is best seen from mid-winter to mid-spring for two reasons: (1) low summer flows reduce the volume of Summit Creek to a trickle, and (2) from this vantage point, alder trees screen the bottom section of the waterfall when they are leafed out.

There are short off-trail forays from the road above the powerlines here. From the junction, head west to cross Summit Creek on a newly installed footbridge. Summit Creek Falls is not far upstream, while the grassy basalt fin of the Backbone is a short distance to the west.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Historic Columbia River Highway Bike Map (Oregon State Parks)
  • Green Trails Maps: Hood River, OR #430
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Regulations, facilities, etc

  • Restrooms and picnic area at Starvation Creek Trailhead
  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge by Zach Forsyth
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook (different approach)

More Links


Contributors

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.