Mt. Defiance is many things - the Columbia Gorge's highest point, a great training hike for bigger peaks (with 4,500 feet in elevation gain), scenic, usually uncrowded, etc. Easy is not on the list. Following 2017's Eagle Creek Fire, the U.S. Forest Service closed Mt. Defiance and other trails affected by the fire until crews could clear debris and ensure trail safety.
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On May 27, our group hiked Defiance soon after the trail's reopening. Thankfully the fire did not do too much damage to the trail. We passed through several patches clearly scorched by the fire on the way up the main route. But the summit area and entire Starvation Ridge Trail were unscathed.
Conditions were ideal - the sky was mostly clear and the temperature remained in the 60s and 70s. After leaving the parking lot, we quickly reached the unrelenting switchbacks Defiance is known for. We kept up a steady pace, taking only a few brief breaks, and reached the top in four hours.
Following lunch and IPAs in the sun near the radio towers, we descended past Warren Lake and followed Starvation Ridge down to the parking lot.
Key takeaway: Mt. Defiance is back in business. The Eagle Creek Fire left a mark, but Defiance is ready for the summer. As an added bonus, the volcano views are now even better on the main trail where the fire cleared out the brush.