The Columbia River Gorge is one of the ultimate hiking destinations here in the Pacific Northwest. Scenic drives, gorgeous waterfalls, and stunning views of the Columbia River leaves no question as to why this place has become such a popular spot to explore. With over 140 hiking trails to choose from, picking which one can be a little overwhelming. I could list off one by one all the great hikes you should explore, but that list could go on for days. So instead let’s take it one hike at a time.
For all you waterfall hunters out there, this state park is the place for you. It’s located in the Columbia River Gorge along Highway 84 about 50 miles from Portland. It offers a 2.6 mile loop that passes by three stunning waterfalls. The picnic area is fantastic. Pack a lunch and enjoy your food with the sounds of the creek rushing by and magnificent views of Starvation Creek Falls in the background. Many of the visitors who come here choose not to take the full 2.6 mile loop around the park. If waterfalls are what you seek all three waterfalls are just a short stroll through the woods. Start your hike by heading west along the paved Mount Defiance Trail that follows Highway 84. At first this trail may seem a little awkward. The sound of the rushing cars may be a bit unpleasant, but don’t worry, soon there will be trees separating you from the road and your peaceful hike in the woods begins.
First up, Cabin Creek Falls. It’s the smallest of the three waterfalls, but certainly worth the stop.
Next up, Hole-In-The-Wall-Falls. This magnificent 92 foot beast will most certainly catch your eye. Originally called Warren Falls, this waterfall used to flow right over the cliff, which caused floods on Highway 84 during the winter. Rather than moving the road they decided to move the waterfall. In 1938 a hole was constructed to allow Warren Creek to flow into a tunnel and out through the “hole-in -the-wall.” Many visitors choose to turn around after this point, but I’d recommend you keep going. There’s one more waterfall to see and it’s only a short hike away.
Last stop, Lancaster Falls. My favorite out of the three. From Hole-In-The-Wall-Falls, cross the wooden bridge and continue to hike along an easy rocky/dirt path. You will come to a fork in the trail and a well marked sign will tell you to head right. Do as it says and you’ll find yourself standing here, up close and personal with this beauty.
After an easy 1.8 mile out-and-back hike, passing by three magnificent waterfalls, plus a bonus fourth in the picnic area, I would have to say Starvation Creek State Park will most certainly not disappoint. And for those of you interested in hiking the full 2.6 mile hike, stay tuned. I took that hike last spring and trust me there’s definitely some “need to know before you go” info that I’ll tell you about later. Until then, Cheers.
-written by usoutdoor employee Shawna B.