Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

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bobcat
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Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by bobcat » July 22nd, 2020, 8:21 am

I did something I’ve hardly ever done in my life – hike the same trail within a matter of days although the circumstances were vastly different. This route was posted about frequently in the past, mostly by snowshoers in the winter. It was my first hike on Silver Star in the summer - except on Friday, it wasn’t really summer.

Kate and I knew it was going to be cloudy. We didn’t know the clouds would be down to the ground, the forest dripping, the shrubbery soaking. Wearing summer cotton shorts and only with a light windbreaker, I got soaked from head to toe and mildly hypothermic. When we got to the junction with the Grouse Vista Trail, we paused for a moment. Others were coming up that trail in regular procession. Since there had been no views whatsoever, we decided to turn back. This was Kate’s first COVID hike (we carpooled with her in the back passenger seat, windows down, both wearing masks), and she was just happy to be out.

Parking below the gate, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Up the old track, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Tiger lilies, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Misty talus slope, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Kate in the blooms, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg

I decided to return on Monday, with a forecast of over 90 degrees in Portland itself. Once out of the woods, the views opened up to my return route down from the Indian Pits. Pyramid Rock and False Pyramid stood out on the ridge above the Hagen Creek bowl. Wildflowers were blazing along the old road bed, dominated by that ubiquitous invasive (smooth hawksbeard) which loves Silver Star so much. Just before the junction with the Grouse Vista Trail, I took note of the Pyramid Rock Trail tunneling down through Sitka alder (I’ve never done that one).

Pyramid and False Pyramid, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Indian Pits, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Common paintbrush (Castilleja miniata), Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
View down the Silver Star South Ridge.jpg
Golden pea (Thermopsis montana), Silver Star South Ridge.jpg

Then it was up to the summit – a bit hazy and already populated but a five-volcano view, the meadows still blooming profusely and a light breeze providing the needed coolness.

Silver Star Trail approaching Sturgeon view, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Mountain spiraea (Spiraea splendens), Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Bear-grass family, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
View to Mt. Adams, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Western sweet-vetch (Hedysarum occidentale), Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Silver Star summit and Mt. Rainier, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Sturgeon Rock from Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Oregon sunshine and paintbrush, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
St. Helens and Rainier from Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Mt. St. Helens from Silver Star Mountain.jpg

I went over to Silver Star 2 and took the nasty cutoff that tunnels down through the bear-grass to join the Indian Pits Trail (you can’t see your feet and loose rocks and roots invite stumbles and twists of the ankles).

Lovage meadow on Silver Star 2, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
View to Silver Star 2, Indian Pits Trail, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Mountain bog gentian (Gentiana calycosa), Indian Pits Trail, Silver Star Mountain.jpg

Indian Pits offered more views of the mountains, bear-grass meadows, and of course, the pits themselves. Looking over the Hagen Creek bowl, you can see where noble firs were planted in rows a few decades ago. To connect with the south ridge jeep road, I headed down scree for the most part but also ploughing through some armpit high brush (there are blackberries in there!) before closing the loop and heading back down as the day steamed up.

Rows of noble firs from the Indian Pits Trail, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Indian pit, Indian Pits, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Pyramid Rock from Indian Pits ridge, Silver Star Mountain.jpg
Indian Pits view, Silver Star South Ridge.jpg

proxie
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by proxie » July 25th, 2020, 7:44 am

How is the drive up to the trailhead? it mentions 4WD and high clearance vehicles recommended and wondering if I still applicable. I just have a sedan.

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TwoPaw
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by TwoPaw » July 25th, 2020, 8:45 am

Exactly my question - what is access road like?

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Chip Down
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by Chip Down » July 25th, 2020, 2:32 pm

regarding the road questions: I've seen low/sporty cars there. It's no problem at all for normal sedans. Don't expect to go fast, but you'll get there.

Speaking of roads, I remember being able to drive partway up that route many years ago, but I gather it's gated down low now?

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bobcat
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by bobcat » July 26th, 2020, 8:44 am

proxie wrote:
July 25th, 2020, 7:44 am
How is the drive up to the trailhead? it mentions 4WD and high clearance vehicles recommended and wondering if I still applicable. I just have a sedan.
Maybe you're thinking of the access road to the north ridge. That one is a nightmare. This is the easiest access to Silver Star. I went via Washougal River Road, then Hughes Road, then Skamania Mines Road, then W-1200 (same as Grouse Vista, but not quite as far). Took about an hour from SW Portland, only 3.7 miles of gravel. First time I went was in a Subaru; the second time I went was in a 1987 Honda Accord. No discernible issues at all. Very nice road.
Chip Down wrote:
July 25th, 2020, 2:32 pm
Speaking of roads, I remember being able to drive partway up that route many years ago, but I gather it's gated down low now?
Yes, the road you hike up to join the trail/old jeep road is W-1280. That is now gated at W-1200. W-1280 was extended and improved a few years ago to accommodate some DNR-style clearcutting.

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Chip Down
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by Chip Down » July 27th, 2020, 7:06 pm

bobcat wrote:
July 26th, 2020, 8:44 am
proxie wrote:
July 25th, 2020, 7:44 am
How is the drive up to the trailhead? it mentions 4WD and high clearance vehicles recommended and wondering if I still applicable. I just have a sedan.
Maybe you're thinking of the access road to the north ridge. That one is a nightmare.
There are tales of people starting up that road and turning back, thinking they made a wrong turn. "This can't possibly be the road to a trailhead". :lol: My last drive up 4109 was in an Outback, but I wouldn't do it now.

Anyway, I did notice the FG page for the GV hike showed the 4WD icon, which it shouldn't.

slopvehicle
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by slopvehicle » July 27th, 2020, 10:48 pm

Yes! I drove about halfway up 4109 in a 4WD pickup last year, encountered traffic coming the opposite direction and decided to turn around-- it was beginning to rain anyhow, and we'd already resigned to not being able to enjoy the views with all the clouds, so we bailed. Yes, did about a 20 point turn on 4109 to get back down, haha.

The ruts are pretty fierce, even though my truck handled it well, I'd probably go up the other way next time around.

Bonus was getting lost on some unmarked logging spurs up off L-1100 on the way out. Long day of driving for no hiking!

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TwoPaw
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by TwoPaw » July 28th, 2020, 7:49 am

bobcat wrote:
July 26th, 2020, 8:44 am

Yes, the road you hike up to join the trail/old jeep road is W-1280. That is now gated at W-1200. W-1280 was extended and improved a few years ago to accommodate some DNR-style clearcutting.
Thanks. I've taken W-1200 before so that works. Assume you don't need a Discover Pass at this gate (at least for now - tho I have one anyway).

justpeachy
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by justpeachy » July 28th, 2020, 5:38 pm

Nice report! Can't believe the flowers are still blooming so much.

Yeah, Road 4109 on the north side is pretty horrible. You don't need 4WD, but you do need high clearance, good tires, and nerves of steel. I took my Outback up there for the last time in 2017 and won't drive it again.

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bobcat
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge – 7-20-20

Post by bobcat » July 29th, 2020, 11:39 am

TwoPaw wrote:
July 28th, 2020, 7:49 am
Assume you don't need a Discover Pass at this gate
You need a Discover Pass anywhere you park on DNR land, whether it's an official trailhead, by the side of the road, or any other venue. Anywhere.

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