The waterfalls in Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon
Starvation Creek State Park in Oregon has four sets of incredible falls including one accessed right from the parking lot, which makes a trip here one of the easiest ways to see the famous Columbia Gorge waterfalls.
A flat, paved pathway connects the trails leading to the quadruple falls, making them accessible to all skill levels and a fun day trip for families. It’s also a popular pathway for cyclists riding along the Historic Columbia River Highway.
The four waterfalls are:
- Starvation Creek Falls
- Cabin Creek Falls
- Hole-in-the-Wall Falls
- Lancaster Falls
A mile-long path links all four, and it takes about 30 minutes each way plus time for photo stops.
The Starvation Creek Trailhead
Starvation Creek trail is a 10 minute drive west of Hood River, just past Viento State Park. If you’re driving from Portland take I-84 to Wyeth, then turn off on Exit 55 toward the Starvation Creek Trailhead.
Those coming from the east will need to drive past the falls since there’s no way to turn left off the highway, and take Exit 51 to turn at Wyeth then cross back under I-84 to get to Exit 55.
A large, well marked parking lot marks the start of the Starvation Creek Trailhead, which has restrooms, a plaque commemorating the beginning of construction on the Columbia River Highway back in 1912 and a trail leading to a shaded picnic area.
Starvation Creek Falls
Starvation Creek got its name back in 1884 when a train got stranded in a snowbank, trapping passengers for weeks. Fortunately everyone survived the ordeal thanks to quick-thinking local residents who skied in with food and supplies, and details of the harrowing ordeal are shared on interpretive signs.
The Starvation Creek waterfall is a one minute walk from the parking lot rest area off I-84. Follow the path past the picnic area, and marvel at the 190-foot, two-tiered falls.
While some are content to just stay here, it’s also possible to explore around the falls by scampering up the rocky cliffs surrounding either side, and even go back behind them through a cool slot canyon. Be sure to wear shoes with a good grip, since there are loose rocks and water crossings.
The trailhead links up with Viento State Park to the east, and serves as the start for hikes including Mount Defiance Trail, the Starvation Ridge Loop and Starvation Ridge Trail. The latter is considered one of the most difficult hikes in the Gorge, with an incline of more than 3,000 feet in just four miles. It eventually connects up with Mitchell Point and Warren Lake.
Cabin Creek Falls
Continuing about 10 minutes down the road, enjoy views of the Columbia River and Washington peeking through the trees, and thick fir forests and moss blanketing the hillside as you continue to Cabin Creek Falls.
There’s a great vantage point looking down on the two-tiered, 220 foot high falls, which are framed by a massive basalt boulder. Visitors can also scamper down the trail to view them from below, and cool off in the shallow pool at the base of the falls.
Head back up to the pathway, and continue five minutes west to the Mount Defiance Trail Junction which leads to Hole in the Wall Falls. It was actually man-made by highway crews who had to drill through the rock in the 1930s to mitigate issues created by Warren Creek damaging the highway.
The result is a 90-foot waterfall that bursts out of the cliffside, and today there’s a nice, sunny picnic area in front.
Continue along the easy gravel path and over the wooden bridge to the last waterfall, called Lancaster Falls. The trail connects with the Starvation Ridge Trail, leading to Wonder Creek and Lancaster. From here you can only see the lower, 20-foot tier because of tree cover, but it’s actually 250-feet high.
Enjoy this last set of Gorge waterfalls, then head back down the trail for the quick hike back to the Starvation Creek Falls trailhead.
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Tamara Elliott is the travel editor and founder of The Gorge Guide, which highlights the best experiences in the Columbia River Gorge. She’s an award-winning writer based in Hood River, Oregon, who particularly loves the area wineries and waterfall hikes. Tamara is also the founder of Globe Guide, which offers savvy tips for exploring destinations around the world.