Recently, we’ve had a number of questions about the Columbia River Gorge’s “new” waterfalls.
Are there actually new waterfalls in the Gorge??
Well, yes and no.
New view of an old fall: In 1938, Warren Falls was decidedly threatening to wash out the Columbia River Highway, so a tunnel was blasted through the adjacent cliff, and the creek was diverted through – creating Hole-In-the-Wall Falls.
In September, Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation, and their partners opened a new 1.3-mile section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. This section starts at Starvation Creek Trailhead (Exit 55, eastbound only) and is a westward out-and-back hike or bicycle ride to Lindsey Creek. The trail connects with an existing 1.2-mile section of the State Trail that runs from Viento State Park to Starvation Creek Trailhead – making for a nice 5-mile hike or ride if you’re looking for an afternoon outing. The section is a part of a larger effort to connect a 73-mile stretch of the Highway from Troutdale to The Dalles.
The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is an on-going project to reconnect sections of the Highway for a 73-mile stretch from Troutdale to The Dalles.
Warren Creek bridge is designed and constructed in the style of the old Columbia River Highway.
This new section of trail also boasts views of three waterfalls. While these falls have always been accessible to hikers; now, for the first time, they are accessible from a paved, well-graded universal trail.
Interstate 84 was constructed in the 1950 as a new “water grade route” through the Columbia River Gorge. At times, segments of the Columbia River Highway were destroyed or replaced by this bigger, faster thoroughfare. The new State Trail parallels I-84 in places.
Four in One
For those of you who have never been to Starvation Creek, there are actually four waterfalls awaiting you in about a 1-mile stretch. Below, from east to west, are your three “new” waterfalls in addition to the “old” Starvation Creek Falls – an often overlooked waterfall a short jaunt east of the Starvation Creek Trailhead.
The four waterfalls within one mile of the Starvation Creek Trailhead. All are easily viewed along the paved Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. The new section of the State Trail is in red.
DISTANCE FROM STARVATION CREEK TRAILHEAD (approximate)
- Starvation Creek Falls 0.1 miles east
- Cabin Creek Falls 0.3 miles west
- Hole-in-the-Wall Falls 0.6 miles west
- Lancaster Falls 0.8 miles west
Starvation Creek Falls is a short (0.1 mile) walk from the Starvation Creek Trailhead. It’s a lovely spot for a picnic.
Cabin Creek Falls is the first of three waterfalls along the new section of the State Trail heading west from the Starvation Creek Trailhead.
Hole-in-the-Wall Falls is another lovely spot to pull off for a bite to eat.
Named for the Columbia River Highway’s designer and engineer, Samuel Lancaster, this waterfall is just visible from a viewpoint along the State Trail. For a better look at Lancaster Falls, take a hike up Starvation Ridge Trail.
Multiple viewpoints keep this new section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail interesting. Park at Starvation Creek Trailhead for a 2.6-mile out-and-back hike or ride, or park at Viento State Park for a solid 5-mile out-and-back.
Want to Learn More?
For more history about this area and a loop hike, check out the WyEast Blog
For this same loop hike and links to others starting from Starvation Creek Trailhead, check out the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Hikes
And for the history buff, our ranger go-to site for Gorge history, read up on on the Lindsey to Starvation Creek section of the Highway at Recreating the Historic Columbia River Highway