Silver Star Mountain

AreaGifford Pinchot National Forest
Best time to visitLate June through July
Blooming NowUnknown
Elevation3440-4390 feet
Trail Info5.7 mile loop, 1500 feet elevation gain (via Ed's Trail from the north trailhead)
6.0 mile out-and-back, 2040 feet elevation gain (to summit from Grouse Vista trailhead)
9.1 total miles, 2640 feet elevation gain (to summit and including Ed's Trail loop from Grouse Vista trailhead)
 PLANT LIST AVAILABLE
 ADDITIONAL PHOTOS
 Oregon Hikers Field Guide information
DogsAllowed, but must be kept on leash AT ALL TIMES.
 Northwest Forest Pass required!

Description

Silver Star Mountain is unique because of the 1902 Yacolt Burn, the largest fire in Washington history. The complete loss of ground cover led to rockslides that have resulted in an area that has resisted natural reforestation for the past century. This phenomenon allows high-elevation wildflowers to bloom despite the relatively low elevation. The meadows are flower-filled kaleidoscopes, impossible to capture with any camera. Plus, clear days provide fantastic views of five Cascade peaks, as well as the city of Portland.

Here is an abbreviated list of wildflowers that await you: Bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax); Inside-Out Flower (Vancouveria hexandra); Western bistort (Polygonum bistortoides); Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa); Indian paintbrush (Castilleja miniata); Mountain golden-pea (Thermopsis montana); Cascade aster (Aster ledophyllus); Long-beaked hawkweed (Hieracium longiberbe); Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum); Subalpine mariposa lily (Calochortus subalpinus); Woodland penstemon (Nothochelone nemorosa); Cardwell's penstemon (Penstemon cardwellii); Cliff penstemon (Penstemon rupicola); Nuttall's larkspur (Delphinium nuttallii); Rosy spiraea (Spiraea splendens); Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis); Oregon iris (Iris tenax); Tiger lily (Lilium columbianum); Small-flowered paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora); Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa); Mountain Wallflower (Erysimum arenicola); Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa); and Columbia Lewisia (Lewisia columbiana).

NOTE: There are many other trails, but we recommend Ed's Trail for the best wildflower experience.

Look for the trail sign at the south end of the parking area. Pass the kiosk and start up the Silver Star Trail (#180). The trail meets up with the old road, which continues uphill and switchbacks at a viewpoint of Starway Canyon, with Mount Hood in the distance. Slightly beyond this switchback is the start of Ed's Trail (#180A) on your left. This trail leads you through the abovementioned meadows, an experience which you will never forget. As you continue to climb beyond the meadows, take a moment to turn around and admire the views of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams (from left to right).

Ed's Trail passes through a natural arch, and then reaches a steep muddy (but mercifully short) section that may require you to use your hands. Beyond that section, you will ascend a 15 foot rock wall that will definitely require the use of your hands. However, if you are in good physical shape, neither of these sections should present a problem (except in bad weather, in which case you should probably not be doing this hike!).

Above the rock wall, the trail continues through more flowers, followed by a brief forested section before ending at a trail junction. To reach the summit, head uphill on the old road. This is the same road (a/k/a the "Silver Star Trail") that you walked upon at the beginning of the hike. After 0.2 mile, turn left at an unsigned intersection marked by a large rock cairn onto another rockier road (the "Silver Star Summit Trail"). This continues a quarter mile uphill to the twin summits of Silver Star.

When you have had your fill of the views, return downhill to the old road, and take that all the way back to the parking area. But this is no ordinary "road hike"... the beauty continues with more meadows filled with more flowers and fine mountain views, especially Mount Saint Helens.

Directions

Take I-5 north from Vancouver to Exit 11 (Highway 502). Take Highway 502 east 5.8 miles to Battle Ground. Turn left onto Highway 503 and proceed north. After another 5.6 miles, turn right onto Rock Creek Road, which is signed for Lucia Falls and Moulton Falls. (Rock Creek Road becomes Lucia Falls Road.) Proceed 8.6 miles, then turn right onto Sunset Falls Road. Proceed 2 miles, then turn right across a bridge onto Dole Valley Road. Proceed 2.4 paved miles, then turn left uphill onto "good" gravel road L1100. Follow this road for 6.7 miles, ignoring several right turns (especially at the 2.2 and 4.2 mile marks). When in doubt, stay on the better road!

After 6.6 miles you will reach an unmarked four-way junction in a clearcut area. Turn sharply right and proceed uphill onto Road 4109. Proceed 2.6 miles on this rocky, rutted road to the trailhead parking area. The clearly marked trail begins at the south end of the parking area.

IMPORTANT: Road 4109 is barely navigable with a regular passenger car depending upon available clearance. However, a higher clearance vehicle is strongly recommended (e.g., Subaru Outback, Jeep, 4WD, et cetera).

If you have a regular (low clearance) vehicle, you may want to consider starting from the Grouse Vista Trailhead because the road access is much easier.

Trip Reports

DateSubmitted by
06/03/2017Greg Lief
Reports from previous years
06/04/2016Greg Lief
06/19/2015Greg Lief
06/07/2015Greg Lief
07/01/2014Greg Lief
06/30/2013Greg Lief
07/11/2012Greg Lief
08/05/2011Greg Lief
07/17/2010Greg Lief
07/05/2009Greg Lief
06/21/2009Adam Sawyer

Switch to historical view of wildflower reports

Add new report


If you find this website useful, please consider making a donation to help defray our web hosting costs.
We do not accept any advertising, nor will we ever sell our mailing list. Thanks for your consideration!


Return to main page


Copyright © 2017 Greg Lief | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Facebook Group