What is it?
Starvation Creek Falls is a towering 227 foot waterfall with a developed viewing area and picnic tables. It’s a stately waterfall in and of itself, but there are also three other waterfalls in the vicinity that can all be visited by taking a wonderfully diverse 2.5 mile, 600-foot elevation gain loop hike.
The area is also home to some interesting Gorge history. The creek was originally named "Starveout Creek" due to an incident in 1884, where two trains were stranded by a blizzard in the area for two weeks. It all ended well, however, as nobody actually starved or died in the incident.
Later in 1939 the highway department constructed a massive metal weir and tunnel system to divert water from the top of what was once Warren Falls, through a massive basalt cliff to where it now spits out as Hole-in-the-Wall Falls. The reason for all of this rather impressive engineering was because water and debris from Warren Falls causing trouble for the newly constructed Historic Highway. So instead of rerouting the road, they rerouted the waterfall. At the time this guide was published, ODOT was in the process of a rather large scale Historic Highway restoration project. There is a grassroots push to have Warren Falls restored in the process. If you’re interested in the cause there is a facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/RestoreWarrenFalls. Oregon Field Guide recently did a segment on Warren Falls as well. Click here to watch it.
To visit Starvation Creek Falls, walk along a paved path to the right of the restrooms. Follow the path upstream a short ways to the viewing area.
To take the loop hike, walk back towards the freeway exit you took to get to the parking area, and walk west along the shoulder of the road. Eventually the trail dips down into the woods, following a segment of the Historic Highway. After .2 mile you will reach an easy to miss junction with the Starvation Cutoff Trail on your left. The Cutoff Trail is steep, really steep, potentially using your hands in a couple of spots kind of steep. But it’s better to go up it than come down it, so up you go. After .5 mile of lung-burning climbing you’ll arrive at a junction with the Starvation Creek Trail, make a right here. The next mile of hiking visits viewpoints, hanging meadows, and creek crossings before arriving at a junction with the Mt. Defiance Trail. Continue to the left along this trail, but only for 100 yards or so until you reach the bottom of Lancaster Falls. Then, head back to the junction and proceed down to the left, across a rock slope before re-entering the trees.
The trail now levels out, passing Hole-in-the-Wall Falls and a foot bridge over Warren Creek. If you’re interested in visiting what used to be Warren Falls, leave the trail and scramble up the dry creek bed, around a corner, and up into the beautiful basalt amphitheater that was once home to Warren Falls. Once back on the main trail, continue east, past Cabin Creek Falls and back to the parking area.
From Portland, take I-84 east to exit 55, which quickly dead-ends at the parking area.. If coming from Hood River, take exit 51, turnaround, and drive back to exit 55.