Silver Star Mountain via Ed’s Trail–Stellar wildflowers and explosive volcanic views

 

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Ed’s Trail on Silver Star Mountain provides non-stop views of four volcanoes, including Mount St Helens.

Quick Facts:

Location: Silver Star Scenic Area

Land Agency: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Roundtrip: 5.0 miles

High Point: 4,390 feet

Elevation gain: 1,440 feet

Difficulty: moderately difficult

Green Trails Map: Lookout Mtn No. 396, Bridal Veil No. 428

Contact: Gifford Pinchot National Forest Mount Adams Ranger District,

Note: FR 4109 is rough and recommended for high clearance vehicles

Access: Take Exit 11 on I-5 following SR 502 east to Battle Ground. Then head north 5.6 miles on SR 503. Turn right onto Rock Creek Road (which becomes Lucia Falls Road) continuing east for 8.4 miles. Turn right onto Sunset Falls Road following for 7.3 miles to Sunset Campground. Turn right onto rough and bumpy FR 41 for 3.5 miles. Then turn right onto FR 4109.  After 1.5 miles bear left, continuing for 2.7 miles to trailhead.

Good to know: exceptional wildflowers; exceptional views, dog-friendly, One of the 100 Classic Hikes of Washington, practice Leave No Trace Principles

 

The four volcano view from Silver Star Mountain is simply stellar. So too is the view over the Columbia River to Portland. And the early summer floral displays from the high slopes of this open fluted peak are out-of-this-world. Starting from a lofty trailhead, saunter up slopes scorched clean of timber in Washington’s big burn of 1902; now shrouded with alpine meadows bursting with brilliant wildflowers.

Follow Ed’s Trail, the shortest and most popular route to this former fire lookout site in Vancouver Washington’s backyard. Through swaying bear grass against a backdrop of snowy showy volcanoes march upward on steep ridge. At .5 mile, veer left. You’ll be returning on the old road right, known now as Silver Star Trail no. 180. Skirt above, around and beneath ledges and knobs. At 1.5 miles pass through the trail’s highlight landmark, a rock arch strangely resembling two transformer robots butting heads!

After a short but steep section of trail requiring use of hands, meet up again with the old road. Head left, soon reaching a junction. Head left again, soon reaching Silver Star’s 4,390-foot open summit. The volcanic views are explosive! Mounts Hood, Rainier, Adams and St. Helens; plus a plethora of minor but equally beautiful peaks and ridges! Without a doubt this prominent peak in southwestern Washington’s Cascades ranks among my top hikes for wildflowers and sweeping views.

When it’s time to return, retrace steps back to the old road and follow it through meadow upon meadow of dazzling blossoms. The walking is leisurely; a much easier descent than returning via Ed’s Trail.

For more detailed information on this hike and the other very best hikes in Washington state, pick up a copy of the best-selling and authoritative 100 Classic Hikes Washington

For more detailed information on this hike and many others in the Vancouver-Portland area, consult my Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge book.

For information on where to stay in the area and for other fun things to do, consult Northwest TripFinder.

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