Silver Star Mountain Loop Hike (via Ed's Trail)
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Silver Star Mountain Trailhead
- End point: Silver Star Mountain
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Loop
- Distance: 5.7 miles (round trip)
- High Point: 4390 feet
- Elevation gain: 1460 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: March through November
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
- Family Friendly: Maybe
This is the (slightly) more difficult way to visit the north side of Silver Star Mountain. It's also the most scenic. There are great views to the north starting at the trailhead and getting better all the way up. This trail has a couple of short stretches of scrambling (requiring the use of your hands), so it's probably not the best for small children or dogs. If that stuff worries you, hike the out-and-back variation instead.
From the Silver Star Mountain Trailhead, pass a hopelessly inaccurate sign and start up the Silver Star Trail (#180). The first part of this trail is a fairly new single track through a new forest, but soon the trail reaches a closed road and follows it upward. You'll soon come to a switchback at a beautiful viewpoint of the Starway Canyon. Just past this switchback, look for a sign marking the start of Ed's Trail (#180A). Ed's Trail is a newer trail named in honor of Edward Robinson. The trail starts up through meadows that become a riot of flowers in June and July. The trail hooks around a point and you'll have views of the ridge to the south. There an informal trail heading down to the west that connects with the Silver Star Trail and the Chinook Trail. Then you'll see a plaque dedicating the trail.
The trail stays just on the east side of ridgecrest and passes several rock outcroppings. The Ed's Trail Arch can be somewhat hidden in the berry plants, but the trail goes right through the arch, so you can't miss it. Soon after the arch the trail climbs a steep muddy section that often requires climbing on all fours. This section is only about 30 feet high. A second section will certainly require your hands as the trail ascends a 15 foot rocky wall. Both of these sections can be challenging in bad weather, but they're really not too difficult for anyone in decent shape.
Above the rock climb the trail slabs across the ridge through more flower gardens. There's a short bit of forest walking before Ed's Trail ends at the Silver Star Upper Trail Junctions. A number of trails come together here. The Bluff Mountain Trail (#172) runs east across the slopes of Little Baldy and Bluff Mountain to a trailhead. The Sturgeon Trail (#180C) heads down to the west past Sturgeon Rock. Both of these trails may be on new alignments, since they don't match the maps.
Head uphill on the old road, which gets pretty rocky here. This closed road is now known as the Silver Star Trail. This is the same road you walked back in the early part of the hike. After a short distance turn left at an unsigned intersection on another, even rockier road. This is the Silver Star Summit Trail (#180D). Hike this road uphill for about a 1/4 mile to the summit of Silver Star. Two roads lead to twin summits. The concrete foundation of a fire lookout on the north summit is worth a visit and provides a tiny bit of shelter from the wind. The views here include all of the main paths to the summit, as well as five volcanic peaks and the lights of Vancouver and Portland.
When you tire of the view (if you do), head back downhill to the Silver Star Upper Trail Junctions. Once you get on the old road, continue past Ed's Trail and take the old road all the way down to complete the loop. In the summer, the flower meadows are filled with butterflies. The road makes for pretty easy walking on summer evenings, but after you pass the bottom of Ed's Trail, don't forget to find the dirt path from the road back to your car.
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