While this route starts and ends at the same places the Mt. Defiance Trail
does, this route follows an entirely different ridge system to the summit. The route passes lovely Warren Lake before it meets up again with the Defiance Trail on the last mile to the summit. Starvation Ridge is denuded at the start owing to its climb past some power lines but once it reenters the forest, it is basically a straight shot up the ridge in contrast to the numerous switchbacks on the other trail. It's a bit longer than the Defiance Trail but makes for a great loop hike when combined with it.
The route climbs the ridge that descends from the mound just left of Hood in this photo by rfbolton.
See the Getting There section of the main page for directions to the trailhead right off I-84.
From the parking lot, follow the paved trail back along the side of the highway about a quarter of a mile to signed Starvation Ridge Trail on the left. Some steep switchbacks get you some elevation rather quickly. The trail will go along the cliffs facing the Columbia River for a few hundred feet but then takes a left turn into a gully cut by Cabin Creek. You'll hear but not really see the waterfall below. At 640 feet and .6 miles into the trail, the trail "T's" and you want to take a left. (The other way heads back to the waterfall area and to the start of the Mt. Defiance Trail.)
A few switchbacks later you are on open slopes facing the Gorge. Can be very windy here. Shortly after, you will reenter the forest and head straight up Starvation Ridge. At maybe 1.5 to 2 miles up, the trail will flatten and curve left crossing a small rockpile. As you traverse left (east) you will come to the Starvation Creek gully. A few short switchbacks up and you will top out on the ridge somewhere about 4000 feet.
At this point there is a somewhat open area ahead and a forested mound to your right. The trail heads southwest at the base of the mound and then switchbacks up a hundred feet or so to the cliffs on the west side of this mound. Great viewpoint over to the Defiance Trail Ridge and you should be able to see the summit from here. (see photo below)
Photo by RPC
Hike the trail mostly southwest and mostly flat until it bisect with Mitchell Point Trail (not signed). It looks like it "T's" there but the way to the left ends shortly after. From here, you hike west and descend a few hundred feet to Warren Lake at 3732 feet. The trail traverses around the north end of the lake and .8 from the lake it meets up with the Defiance Trail. Turn left and go 1 mile to the summit crossing the access road twice. (There is also a trail .2 miles after the junction of Starvation/Defiance Trails that heads right and goes around the south side of the summit to get there and it is .2 miles longer than the straight shot up the north side.)
In winter, a GPS with waypoints is advisable since it is easy to lose the trail. I've headed up that mound after topping off on the ridge and wasted time and energy doing so before. Just make sure you don't walk off the cliffs there.
Total Distance is 6.1 miles and elevation gain is 4800 feet. A great workout.
None needed. Snowshoes and GPS advisable in winter.