Mount Defiance Trail

HARD 96 reviews

Mount Defiance Trail is a 12.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cascade Locks, Oregon that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
12.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5216 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

old growth

rocky

Hike to the highest point of the Columbia Gorge with amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Adams Many consider this hike Oregon's hardest trail. As you climb this six million year old shield volcano, you will find breathtaking views of the Columbia Gorge, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St Helens. While the top is marred by a bunch of communication equipment, you will still find one of the best views of Mt Hood.

2 days ago

It's BACK!!

hiking
9 months ago

Went up defiance, came down starvation. Took about 7.5 hours with lots of stops. Starvation was much steeper than defiance-coming down was extremely difficult! Actually, painful. Pretty technical in some spots. Next time I'll go up defiance and come down defiance, starvation trail=no thanks.
Amazing views at the top, we could see St. Helens, rainier, Adams and hood from various points. This is a probably one of the hardest hikes in the gorge(for me) and I've done a lot of them! Much harder than dog mountain so don't even compare :)

10 months ago

Is the lake thawed out yet??! Thinking about hiking Sunday and fly fishing for some trout!

hiking
10 months ago

Very hard hike never pushed myself so hard to finish something The trek down was worse then going up. First and last time on that mountain for this inexperienced hiker. Proud of myself for completing such a difficult hike but never again.

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike. Bring hiking poles. On the way down, there are some parts that steel and full of tiny rock pebbles, which makes it hard to have traction with the ground.

hiking
11 months ago

If you like steep and long, this hike always does the trick. It's a great conditioning hike for mountain climbers.

hiking
11 months ago

This trail is no joke! It starts with a mild incline, I was feeling a little disappointed and then BAM! The incline gets very intense without warning and the incline only increases for the next 8-9 miles. Wouldn't recommend doing the Starvation ridge loop. I didn't see the loop cut off, so ended up doing this one backwards (wouldn't recommend). But the views are amazing! Some spots a little to covered by trees to get a clear picture.

Would recommend completing dog mountain, and starvation ridge first before attempting this one.

Bring plenty of water! I went through at least 5 bottles just on the way up. And there's no real good place along the way for a lady to "pop a squat"...

Descending down can be difficult, I'm very lightweight so placing a few rocks in my pack helped even out my weight distribution. I didn't slide or fall but I saw others that did even with a pole or stick.

This hike took me in total 4hrs to complete. (would have been shorter if I didn't miss the damn cutoff). Going without stops this hike can be completed under 3hrs

hiking
11 months ago

Did this hike yesterday. Weather was awesome. We did the defiance trail out and back. Very long and strenuous hike with good views of gorge.

11 months ago

The weather was perfect. It's a bit steep and easy to slide in sections. My biggest concern was the amount of poison oak . It was growing over the trail and along it.

11 months ago

Did this may 14 and may 21. Amazing what a beautiful day can make this into. Took true trail second time. May 14 needed to take alternate route. Great training hikes.

hiking
11 months ago

I did this on May 21st. Was a great challenging hike but I wasn't a huge fan of the summit. All the electrical equipment and wires were a bummer. Still gorgeous views and an active osprey nest on starvation ridge

hiking
11 months ago

I did this on May 21st. Was a great challenging hike but I wasn't a huge fan of the summit. All the electrical equipment and wires were a bummer. Still gorgeous views and an active osprey nest on starvation ridge

hiking
11 months ago

The difficulty rating of this trail is no joke but the view you get at the summit is definitely worth the relentless incline! I completed this hike on May 20th. I ended up starting at the Starvation Creek Trailhead and came down to the Mt. Defiance trailhead. the views along the way to the top were beautiful. Warren Lake was a great spot to stop for a quick food/water break. Shortly after passing Warren Lake, you'll see some trail markers through a short rock field. Once out of the rock field, there's still a significant amount of snow to hike through to the top. The snow made it a little difficult to find the actual trail so we ended up following footprints until we were able to connect with trail 413 up to the Forrest service road that led to the summit. Again, there was still quite a bit of snow so it's best to tread carefully and prepare yourself. The descent was pretty quick and seemed to have less viewpoints to stop at on the way down. This is definitely one of the more challenging hikes in the gorge but worth conquering!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

I was getting the summiting bug (05/03/2017) and after completing Mount Adams last May, felt compelled to attempt this. There was still a fair amount of snow and the trail near the summit faded.

Regardless, I took the path to the southwest and am still feeling it today! It's an excellent and quiet training ground for larger cascade summits.

Next weekend weather prevailing, I will attempt Dog Mountain as at the turns of the plethora of switchbacks, it kept catching my eye!

hiking
Saturday, April 29, 2017

Last Sunday hike. 4/23. TOUGH trail! Lots of snow up there. Got turned around a bit after my phone locked me out because of my wet thumb!!! Don't count on these f'ing devices if not prepared to spend the night! We could have been in serious trouble had I not been with an experienced local that knew the mountain. We came up Starvation and back down Defiance Ridge. Long day. Prepping for Hood summit in May. Learning curve as steep as this climb. Happy trails folks. Follow the rules.

hiking
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Took trail 4-18-17 -- it was a fantastic challenge. Unfortunately, about a mile from the summit the snow is still really high, about a foot and a half. I lost track of the trail and got lost. Found the trail again -- then got lost again. I'm gonna go again in a little over a month once the snow is lower. Beautiful on the way up though!

hiking
Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hiked this on 3/19. The trail conditions on the way up were decent, my dog and I made it to the summit with just boots and no trekking poles. There's a lot of snow at the top but there's a track up to the summit, and because of the high snow levels at the summit there was an amazing view of Hood. I went back down starvation ridge and wished I would have gone back the way I came, it's super icy and slow going from the cutoff after the lake to the main starvation ridge trail. Overall the views were amazing and I had the trail all to myself, definitely doable with the snow if you have the right equipment.

hiking
Saturday, November 05, 2016

Went on 10/28/16. Bring 2 sets of legs!! Seriously. This circuit has a little of everything. Good gorge and mountain views, a lake, steep ascents. Clear day views of Wind Mountain, Mt. St. Helens, Mt Adams and Mt. Hood. Will do this again next season with more daylight for exploring and relaxing along the route.

hiking
Monday, October 03, 2016

Beautiful trail this time of year. I am a seasoned hiker and I would consider this hike difficult. There is just about nothing "gradual" about the assent or decent. Never the less, it is quite enjoyable.

I rated it a 4 star because I consider myself a naturalist and I am always a bit bummed out when the trail includes power lines and a cell phone tower. If you would like to avoid these power lines, perhaps taking the "there and back" approach up and down starvation creek trail instead of the entire loop would be more secluded.

For those of you who hike with your K9 companions: I did the loop with Lulu, my Saint Bernard and my best hiking/backpacking companion. Unless you have a mountain dog who is regularly exercised and has regard for cliffs and steep canyons don't bring them. Also, water is scarce for the first 5 miles. So, take a liter for your dog as well. There is an area at the half way point to refill for yourself and the pup.

Over all, this was a beautiful, very clean trail and I would recommend it. -RC

hiking
Sunday, September 25, 2016

I've done this trail twice so far, once as as part of the triple D challenge where you complete Dog Mountain, Mt Defiance, and Devils Rest all in the same day. The first time I did Defiance I was a little bit slower since I was with a group and I didn't know the trail. I completed the trail in 4:16 minutes including rest. Yesterday I went back solo and did the Starvation Ridge up then looped back the other way in 3:16 total from parking lot to parking lot. I went light with just a liter of water, no poles, and a light backpack with food and a layer of clothes. Up the Starvation Ridge was a challenge on your legs. Bring a map or GPS or you can go on the wrong trail at the junctions. I just use the AllTrails apps on my phone and it works well. After Defiance I headed off to Dog Mountain to try and do that twice. Unfortunately I only completed Dog once in 1:28 then the sun went down and I had forgotten my headlamps at home. On my second attempt of Dog I only made it 1/3 of the way up before having to turn back around because darkness was approaching. Defiance definitely tired my legs out and it will do the same to yours if you push it. Defiance is a beautiful challenge that I will bring my wife with me once she gets a few go on Dog Mountain. This is a great training mountain before climbing other big mountains. I used about 1/2 of my liter of water round trip. I recommend 2L of water for average hiker. I also would plan on 5-6 hours on the mountain for an average hiker. If you start past noon, have headlamps in your backpack just in case. Enjoy the view at the top of Mt Hood and other places below. I know the cellular towers are not pretty compared to nature but the good news is you get very good cellular reception at the top. If you have legs left, go to Hood River and grab some food, my favorite is a Big Mac meal with large coke, then pay $1 to cross the bridge over and attack Dog Mountain. Do the Double D: Defiance and Dog every time you do Defiance and you will feel great! Be happy and be safe on the trails.

hiking
Friday, September 16, 2016

Hiked defiance with my buddy yesterday, Sept 15th, 2016. Beautiful weather, and cloudless skies. Did this with a 25 lbs pack, no poles, or any other assisting equipment. You'll savor the brief flat zones you get after the 3000' mark. At 4.25 miles you hit the wilderness signed showing 3,850' elevation, only a couple hundred feet until the open rock field that has some stunning views. I tore my ACL about 8 years ago and haven't had surgery so the way down realllllllllllly can hurt the knees, and due to the steepness a light jog may be better in some areas if you have no poles. Definitely a butt kicker, and the bees at towards the top seem to follow you and are attracted to bright colors (ex: my bright blue mt hardware pack, and the red trim on my buddy's) My friend and I are doing St Helens Oct 6th so wanted to hike this to prepare and from what I read this is the hike to do. If you keep your awareness, there are some breathtaking sights of several of the beautiful mountains the nw has to offer. Do not go unless you have a good amount of water and protein and can handle the steepness. Poles recommended (although again, my friend and I did not use any) Have fun with the monster!

hiking
Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Closed until September 2016 as is Starvation Ridge

hiking
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Challenging and a bit rough on the knees on the way down. I couldn't have done this without poles! Pretty fun though!

hiking
Monday, July 11, 2016

This is one of the toughest hikes I have completed. went on a Saturday and hardly another soul around. the trail map states 11.1 mile, my fitbit claimed 17! I felt like it was 17 lol. good shoes are a must, trekking poles would be very helpful!! extremely steep climb, and the descent offers no relief as its just as tough. the beautiful views are well worth the soreness you'll feel the next day.

hiking
Friday, July 01, 2016

Closed M-F. Only open on weekends and holidays until Aug 2016. Trail head is down to the right of the Parking lot. Didn't get to hike this one because we didn't know it was closed. Not a lot of signage letting you know.

hiking
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fantastic physical and mental test. Toughest hike I've done, but amazing at the top.

hiking
Monday, June 13, 2016

Great conditioning hike taking the Defiance trail up and the Starvation Ridge trail down. I took up a 35lb pack just to make it a little more fun. Coming down Starvation is fun and can run down most of it, if you still have the energy. You have to make it all the way to the top and around the corner to get a great view of Hood. On the way back down you can hit up the lake.

hiking
Friday, June 03, 2016

Mt. Defiance was am incredible hike! It took about 6 1/2 with a break at the top and my legs were pretty dead, but the view and the experience were well worth it! I highly recommend this hike! I also recommend taking Defiance Trail up and Starvation Ridge Trail down. :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

My legs are dead. But it was beautiful took me 6 hours

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2 hr 28 min to the top 1 hr 45 min down its long and kinda steep don't let the comments bug you if you can hike Dog or Ruckle Ridge with little problem you'll be just fine at least Hike Nesmith Point its like 800 ' shorter but its a tad steeper and a longer round trip but not very rewarding either but will help you hike Mt. Defiance with ease

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