Mount Defiance Trail

HARD 131 reviews

Mount Defiance Trail is a 12.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cascade Locks, Oregon that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options 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
5,216 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

old growth

rocky

washed out

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.

hiking
19 days ago

It was an INTENSE!! hike at 6:20am to 5:30pm. It was AMAZINGLY!! beautiful feeling when u get to the top

25 days ago

A tough climb but worth it! An excellent challenge for body, mind, and spirit. I suggest taking as many breaks as you feel you need; your legs will thank you on the descent. Bring plenty of water, and more than you think you'll need on hot days. It took me about 4 hours to reach the summit, and 3.5 hours to hike back down. I did soak in the views of the gorge and mountains in Washington along the way, and spent about an hour on the summit gazing at Mt. Hood.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked July 11. Well marked trail (except near the rock falls) with 2 waterfalls, a lake and views all along the trail. Went up Defiance, down Starvation. Because of the closed Wash out trail at the end we had to take on another steep ridge and cross over a log on the creek- added about 2-3 miles onto the hike. Total hike time was 9 hours and 20 minutes with 2 hours of stopping time for pics and lunch. The summit is a huge ugly power station but u can sit on the rocks that has a view of Mt Hood (too cloudy for us to see it) with the power Station at your back.

hiking
1 month ago

Previous reviewer got confused. The Starvation ridge trail #414 is very much open, it's the short Starvation ridge cut-off trail that is closed. Starvation ridge trail #414 can be taken from the Mount Defiance trail #413 instead of from the cut-off trail until it reopens. Hope this helps.

hiking
1 month ago

Consider yourself a champion after completing this hike! I've seen several folks say they used the Starvation Ridge Trail to either ascend or descend, but that trail is still closed, clearly marked as such. You need to do the full hike on the Mt. Defiance Trail, only. Excellent views of Mt. Adams, Hood & St. Helens. Bring lots of water, as portions are exposed in the burn area.

1 month ago

Brutal hike! I did to the top 12miles back and out w 5k elevation gain

hiking
1 month ago

I’m pretty convinced this is closer to 14 miles, and absolutely convinced I don’t want to do it again. The route down was really tricky, and the total trip took me 10 hours with a stop for lunch. 3L of water, snacks, and a sandwich was plenty of fuel, but I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to take less than that.

It’s a good training hike— really steep coming up (I came up Starvation), and glacially slow picking your way down the same grade (I came down Defiance, which was more poorly maintained, washed out in a few places, and offered a good look at recovering, post-burn forest). The views are best on Starvation, where you can see an osprey nest, pass Lake Warren, and get a really beautiful volcano view. The summit boasts a clear shot of Mt. Hood, and a good look at the hills beyond, but the experience is partially marred by the massive radio tower up there.

All in all: this is a hike for the journey, not the destination— and the journey is really physically demanding, particularly post-summit.

hiking
1 month ago

Definitely a really hard hike for beginners! Took me 9 hours to do the whole trail but that includes 40 minutes of rest and another 40 minutes because I went on a wrong trail in the beginning.

I took Mount Defiance going up and Starvation coming down. There’s a nice lake there too, perfect for camping and staying the night.

1 month ago

Great hike, very beautiful but kicked my ass. Bring lots of food and water. Maybe one half a mile of flat stretch. The rest is either very steep up hill or down.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike last week...and I’ll probably never sign myself up to do it again. Near the bottom, I thought to myself “I’m glad I did this, but I’m even more glad to be done.” We started with Starvation Ridge, and had plans go back down Mt. Defiance trail, but we made a wrong turn and ended up back on Starvation. The uphill is brutal, the downhill is brutal. I’d recommend anyone with bad knees to steer clear! We had amazing views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams (I think) on the way up and Mt. Hood at the summit. I was a little disappointed, anticipating an open peak with a 360 view of the the cascades, but that wasn’t the case. Either way, beautiful with tons of wild flowers! We had the trail mostly to ourselves and only saw two other people coming down as we were going up and one more going up as we were coming down. Brings lots of food and water! I would’ve surrendered myself to the trail had I not had my two sandwiches, an apple, an orange, a granola bar, nuts, and two liters of water. After all was said and done, difficult, but worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

Hike up via Mt Defiance Trail and down Starvation Ridge Trail. Unexpected rain reaching the top was wet walk through fog coming down. Caught a glimpse of Mt Hood through clouds. Lancaster Falls and Warren Lake, overall a good hike.

hiking
2 months ago

A very tough hike—relentlessly steep. I went up Defiance and down Starvation Ridge in a little over 5 hours. Do your knees a favor and bring hiking poles. Parts of the trail are pretty overgrown but overall it’s in good shape. Sections of Defiance got scorched along the ridge line but Starvation was mostly spared.

hiking
2 months ago

Need 2 trekking poles for descent. 2 liters of water, 3 for a hot day. Loop completed with lots of breaks, picnic at Warren lake and stop at the top in 8 hours. Tougher than Table Mt. (from Bonneville TH) and Larch (from Multnomah Falls TH). Should be able to Dog Mt. without difficulty before attempting this. Do not take Starvation Ridge Cutoff Trail. Part of it is washed out and penalty for failure would be severe.

hiking
2 months ago

My son and I started at Defiance and came down Starvation (where there is a part of the trail that has been washed out just before the end of the trail. BE CAREFUL). Hardest hike hands down in the Gorge! 2nd time I have done this, started at Defiance this time. Up hill for 4 miles. The down trees - burnt - eerie feeling. But Nature wins, and it is already growing.
- we also saw a bald eagle flying so close to the ridge , we could see his eyes - really amazing.

hiking
2 months ago

This was the hardest trail I've yet to attempt, including Kilimanjaro. Maybe it was just not my day, but this was grueling for me. I've been walking daily for almost 10 months, but just started hiking a few weeks ago. Hamilton Mountain Trail was challenging, but easy enough. Dog Mountain, too. I'm slow as molasses but i got up and down Dog in less than 4 hours. But Defiance was rough. I went up Defiance and down Defiance and met a young man, a runner, who goes up Starvation and comes down Defiance in 3 hours. Youth is wasted on the young... This trail has only recently opened back up so you'll see lots of fire debris and damage and have lots of places you have to navigate fallen limbs and trunks and such. There certainly are better views, but for the workout and the challenge this is doable even for a slow, getting older and no better fellow who just plods along.

hiking
2 months ago

Completed the Starvation Ridge / Mt. Defiance Loop in 5 hours and 55 minutes, carrying a 25 pound pack. I hiked up Starvation at a moderate pace and came down Defiance a bit faster with a few bursts of jogging.

2 months ago

I hiked up Starvation Ridge and came back down Mt. Defiance. The trip took me just shy of 7.5 hours (carrying a 25 pound pack) which included a 20 minute stop at the top and a few short breaks for water and pictures. There is some debris on the Mt. Defiance Trail from the the forest fire, including a few logs and branches you’ll need to climb over or under.

2 months ago

It's BACK!!

hiking
11 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 :)

Friday, June 30, 2017

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

hiking
Monday, June 26, 2017

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
Monday, June 26, 2017

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
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

hiking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

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
Monday, June 12, 2017

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.

Monday, June 05, 2017

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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

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
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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!

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