In the winter of 1884-1885, two Union Pacific Railroad trains got stuck in heavy snow about fifteen miles west of Hood River. For some days, the passengers were kept from starvation by men who packed supplies from Hood River on skis. The spot became known as Starvation Creek and is now marked by a state park.
Four waterfalls are now accessible from Starvation Creek State Park. The first is Starvation Creek Falls, which is easily reached from the parking lot. Waterfallsnorthwest.com claims that this is the best of the four, but I wasn’t that impressed with it. The lower section of the waterfall is obscured, so we had a hard time getting good pictures. I suppose that if you visit in summer, you could hike up the creek to find better views than what are offered by the path.
The remaining waterfalls are on the Mt. Defiance Trail, which parallels I-84 for some distance before heading into the woods. Needless to say, it was impossible to conduct a conversation on that first stretch of trail.
Cabin Creek Falls is the first waterfall on the trail, followed by Hole In the Wall Falls. Hole In the Wall is, in my opinion, the most interesting of this set of falls. Warren Creek used to fall down the cliff at another location nearby, but since the creek was eroding the road below, highway crews diverted it by blasting a tunnel through the rock. You can see the hole at the top of the falls in the picture to the right.
The last waterfall on the trail is Lancaster Falls. Only the lower tier is pictured here. Glimpses of the rest of the waterfall are visible through the trees from the trail, and a fuller view can be seen from I-84. From the freeway you can tell that this is a very tall waterfall, over 300 feet.
SUMMARY: My rating: Worth the effort (2 stars)
(All four waterfalls: Waterfall – 2 stars, Trail – 2 stars, Experience – 2 stars)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour and 15 minutes drive east
Nearest town: Cascade Locks
Nearest city: Portland
County: Hood River
Length of round-trip hike: 1.8 miles
Best season to visit: Spring if you want the best flows or summer if you want to hike up Starvation Creek for a better view
Things to know: There are several trails that intersect in this general area. If you want to do more hiking than just to the waterfalls, check out your options at this link.
Consider combining this trip with: Harrison Falls to the west or Wah Gwin Gwin Falls to the east
Toilet / Amenities: Toilets, drinking fountain, picnic tables
How to get there:
- Drive east on I-84 to Exit #55, signed for the Starvation Creek State Park. There’s no westbound exit here, so drivers from the east will need to continue to Herman Creek Road and double back. Similarly, when leaving, westbound drivers will need to drive east on I-84 for about a mile and take the Viento exit, which leads to an underpass and then an I-84 on-ramp to Portland.
- Starvation Creek Falls is just east of the parking lot and restrooms.
- The Mt. Defiance Trail is to the west of the parking lot.