Mount Defiance

2 reviews #9 hike out of 198 in
12.7 mi
4 hrs 23 min
4,875 ft
Elev Gain


A steep, 12.7 mile out and back trail to the summit of Mount Defiance. Being the highest peak in the Columbia River Gorge at 4,960 feet, this hike offers incredible views of the surrounding area. This, and the Mount Defiance Starvation Ridge loop are known as the two most difficult hikes in Oregon. Starting at 130 feet above sea level, the trail climbs a total of 4,840 feet to the summit. The trail is in good shape and easy to follow. Even in the winter when there is quite a bit of snow on the summit, the trail is packed out. It is a great training hike for mountaineers being that it is a comparable elevation gain from Timberline Lodge to the summit of Mount Hood.

Start by heading West for about half a mile along the paved path. Take a left at the junction for the Mount Defiance trail and continue up past the picnic tables to Hole In the Wall Falls. The trail then crosses a wooden bridge and through about a mile long section of loose rocks. After this, the trail heads up never ending switchbacks, gaining over 3000 feet in the next three miles.

As you get closer to the summit, a temporary sign at a junction offers two different routes to the summit. Going left offers a straight shot to the summit, while the right takes a more scenic route, circumnavigating the upper part of the mountain, then taking a sharp left turn up to the summit.

On the summit you will see great views of Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainer, Mount Adams, and many other peaks in the Columbia River Gorge. At last, this steep hike finally pays off. Remember to bring trekking poles for the steep descent to save your knees.

Getting Started

Go torwards the 84 west till you see a sign for MT. Defiance, make a left.

Taking Children

This hike is really strenuous and long. I would recommend not taking children unless they are experienced.

    Rate this Hike

    user_profile stars
    11 months ago
    Hiked 5/6/19 13.6 miles with 5249 elevation gain. Did a loop hike starting with Defiance trail, to Mt. Defiance summit, to Warren Lake, to Mitchel Point, to Starvation Ridge trail and back on Mt. Defiance. Took us over 14hrs to complete. I was the first car in the lot at Starvation Creek State Park at 4:15am. Mt. Defiance was a great steep switchback trail with some flat sections in the forrest up high. Lots of downed trees on the trail. There is snow right after the scree field trail junction which we opted out of and crossed the snow instead (we used our microspikes in the snow). 2 to 4ft of snow in places. 2 miles or more of snow. Views were amazing the day we went. Couple good camp spots at Warren Lake. Mitchell point had OK views. Starvation Trail was super hard with very few switchbacks, so you're almost always going straight down. Poison oak on the trail, so make sure you cover up your skin. Lots of beautiful flowers and amazing view points. Visited 12/8/18. Beautiful area to stop at for hiking, sightseeing and a great lunch spot with a couple picnic tables next to Viento falls. Paved trails look very new. Bathrooms were flushing toilets and very clean inside, but only have air dryers, no paper towels for drying your hands. I've seen this place a bunch of other times while visiting the gorge and have always wanted to stop by and check it out. I came here to hike mt defiance trail. The trailheads are easy to find. Mt defiance, starvation ridge and a couple others are on the 14 going west when you walk on the paved path. Starvation ridge from historic trail paved path is closed but you can reach it on mt defiance trail. I did not complete trails because there were creek crossings on both mt defiance and starvation ridge that had no bridges, I was wearing my summer hiking boots (not wanting to get them wet in the water), it was cold out and I was hiking alone. This area is a must stop if you have the time to check it out. I will definitely be back to hike again. Counted 4 waterfalls.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    3 months, 1 week ago

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