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Silver Star Mountain Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking back at the Silver Star Trail with Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier in the distance (Jeff Statt)
The trail follows an abandoned lookout access road. One of the false summits is in the background. (Jeff Statt))
One of the many ridgelines in the Silver Star area (Jeff Statt)
Mount Hood from the Silver Star summit (Jeff Statt)
The route described along the north ridge of Silver Star Mountain Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Silver Star North TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Silver Star Mountain
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 5.6 miles (round trip)
  • Elevation gain: 1240 feet
  • High Point: 4375 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: March through November
  • Family Friendly: Yes (older kids)
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


TAKE CARE OUT THERE: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this trail is experiencing extremely heavy use. Be prepared to wear a mask during the many portions of this hike where physical distancing is not an option.


DO YOUR PART: Services are extremely limited at this time, so please bring a trash bag with you so you can pack out what you pack in, including any dog poop from your four-legged hiking buddy.

Contents

Hike Description

Silver Star Mountain is one of the best 360 degree summits within a day's drive of Portland, boasting a rocky, exposed vista to five major Cascade volcanoes. It is a great wildflower area in the spring, featuring meadows abundant with avalanche lilies and beargrass blooms. Huckleberries ripen along sections of the trail, an old jeep road, in the fall. In addition, there are enough unique and sometimes fanciful rock outcroppings along this north ridge of the exposed pluton that will arouse your inner geologist! Note that this hike, using Trail #180, is the shortest and most direct route to the summit of Silver Star Mountain, but it also has the worst road for access, so make sure you have high clearance and 4WD.

The Silver Star Trail is exposed just about the whole way up, so you'll want to bring a hat and sun protection in the spring/summer months. The trail starts as a single track dirt path through a young maple forest. It soon comes to a closed jeep road and follows this rocky old lookout access road most the rest of the way up the north ridge of the mountain. You'll pass the signed lower end of Ed's Trail at a switchback. (You have an option here to embark upon the more rugged Silver Star via Ed's Trail Loop Hike). There's a great view of Mount Hood and also back to Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier. After rising up the track a short distance, you'll see an unsigned junction with the Chinook Trail, which drops to the right.

Next, you’ll pass a jeep track and campsite on the right before ascending above a noble fir wood among rocky outcrops. Down to the right is the Coyote Creek drainage flowing to the larger Rock Creek valley, with a number of clearcuts visible. Larch Mountain is visible across the valley, and the profile of Sturgeon Rock juts up from a western ridge ahead. Looking behind you, you can see Mount Saint Helens dominating the horizon. The track continues across bear-grass meadows that bloom exuberantly with wildflowers in spring and become a swath of brilliant yellow smooth hawksbeard in early summer. On the crest, a spur to the left gives you a clifftop view that also includes Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, with the deep and rugged valley of Star Creek below. A picturesque rock pillar rises to your right. The Silver Star Trail now follows a wildflower corridor hemmed in by firs, but a gap in the trees offers a view along the Little BaldyBluff Mountain ridge. In short order, you’ll arrive at a five-way junction, with the Sturgeon Rock Trail coming in on the right and the Bluff Mountain Trail and Ed’s Trail joining on the left. When you arrive at a junction with a rockpile, and make a left to ascend to the summit.

The jeep track passes a campsite on the left (there’s a connector to the Bluff Mountain Trail from here) before leaving the sheltering noble fir forest and emerging into an open meadow of bear-grass, huckleberry, spiraea, lupine, and bistort. At a saddle, you’ll see the lower summit of Silver Star 2 to your right and the rocky prominence of Silver Star Mountain to the left. The spectacular ridge that conveys the Bluff Mountain Trail past Little Baldy stretches to the east. Mount Adams is on the eastern horizon, with Mount Rainier to the far left and Mount Hood to the far right. Once on the summit of Silver Star Mountain itself, which more than likely will have other occupants, you’ll note the concrete platform from the former lookout. Looking north, you can see up Silver Star’s north ridge and the route of Ed’s Trail. Mount Saint Helens forms a spectacular backdrop. Far to the south, Mount Jefferson should be visible on any clear day.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Yacolt Burn State Forest Non-Motorized Trails (Washington DNR)
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources: The Yacolt Burn State Forest Map
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • High clearance required on access road

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A Nelson & Alan L. Bauer
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • 100 Classic Hikes: Washington by Craig Romano
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon by Fred Barstad
  • Hiking Washington's Mount Adams Country by Fred Barstad
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Short Hikes in Washington's South Cascades & Olympics by E.M. Sterling & Ira Spring
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • Skamania 231: A Scrambler's Guide by Kelly Wagner
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Lookouts: Firewatchers of the Cascades and Olympics by Ira Spring & Byron Fish

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.