Mt. Defiance Winter Route

12 miles, 5,000 feet gain

Mt. Defiance is a steep hike to the tallest ridge in the Columbia River Gorge, starting at Starvation Creek State Park. This is a very strenuous hike, climbing around 5,000 feet in 6 miles - once the steepness starts, it doesn't stop until you reach the radio tower on top. The summit has a decent view of the Hood River valley, and Mt. Hood. There are a few spots below the summit where the trees open up, and you can see to the Columbia River Gorge below.

Before the climbing begins in earnest, you'll encounter 4 small to medium sized waterfalls. Starvation Creek falls is a 0.1 mile paved side-trail from the parking lot, the other falls are along the main trail. One notable waterfall is Hole in the Wall falls, where water flows from a tunnel in the basalt cliffs.

We hiked Mt. Defiance in January, when most of the trail was buried in snow. If you attempt this trail during the winter months, bring a GPS, a map, and crampons/spikes, and be prepared to melt your quads and calves from the climbing.
Because the snow was densely packed (it hadn't snowed much in the two weeks prior to our hike), we ended up not needing snowshoes, and only used our spikes. The snow got deeper as we climbed, reaching around 7-8 feet deep at the summit.
Due to the deep snow and the elevation gain it ended up being a grueling hike, and we were absolutely exhausted by the time we half stumbled, half limped back to the car.
I'd recommend this winter hike to anyone adequately prepared, who is looking for a challenge. Your best bet is to attempt it when the snow is not too fresh. If snow has recently fallen, The grade of the trail will become to difficult, and potentially dangerous. If that doesn't sound appealing, you can always wait for summer!
Summit of Mt. Defiance, OregonFrosted branches along the Mt. Defiance Trail, OregonMark O. Hatfield Wilderness in Oregon
← McKenzie River
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Thanks for visiting our travel blog, Trails And Trekking! We're Lauren and Anders - an adventure loving couple currently stationed in the Pacific Northwest. We're avid hikers, backpackers, and travelers. We're both originally from Oregon, but we've spent the last two years traveling the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We created this blog to share our passion for exploring the outdoors, and to inspire you to get outside.