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Silver Star

August 28, 2011

Silver  Star wasn’t initially on my list for this summer but I’ve read so much about the views and the flowers that I decided to fit this hike in on August 27, 2011.  David joined me for the 5.7 mile loop, with 1240 feet of elevation gain.  A lot has been written about the road to this trail head and it turned out to be a significant part of the adventure.  I’ll skip the details as they are available online at a number of sites, but suffice to say that once we got onto FR (Forest Road) 41, progress slowed considerably.  Forest Roads aren’t that well maintained so you have to deal with potholes.  It took us almost an hour from Battleground to the trail head — a distance of only about 25 miles on the odometer.  You might think twice before you tackle this road in your passenger car as there are several places where you could bottom out.

Maybe I should note that there are two trail heads leading to the summit of Silver Star.  We used the approach from the north, known as the Silver Star Trailhead.  The other approach is from the south and starts from the Grouse Vista trail head, reached by coming up through Camas, Washington.  For more information see the Portland Hikers web site at www.portlandhikers.org and look under the Field Guide, moderate hikes.  Anyway, if you want to do the loop you want to start from the Silver Star Trailhead. Silver Star is on the rim of an ancient volcano and gets its name from 5 peaks of the rim, which are supposed to be in the shape of a star.  The loop hike follows the western ridge of the volcano’s rim.

According to other trip reports it is a bit late in the season for peak flower blooms.  We considered this an initial investigation of Silver Star with the intention to come back at different times of the year.  However, the views are great and there were still plenty of flowers.  We also tasted a few wild huckleberries at several spots along the loop.   Signage at the trailhead is limited to an area map.  There are two trails from the parking area and no indication which is the “correct” path.  Just pick one, they both come back to the main trail before you reach the beginning of Ed’s Trail.  Personally I think the better choice is to go up the path near the map sign and return on the other path.  But that’s just me.

I definitely recommend going up Silver Star via Ed’s trail and returning on the western side of the crest.  Ed’s trail is scenic the entire way, but does have a couple of sort stretches where you need to do some rock climbing.  Its probably something you would reconsider if there were ice or you were hiking with small kids.

Here are a couple of views from Ed’s Trail:

Nearly anyplace along Ed’s Trail, and from the summit, you have views of 4 snow-capped peaks:  Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.

At the top you have the choice of a northern peak and a southern peak with a short saddle in between.  Clearly you want to visit both, but here David and I are at the northern peak with St. Helens and Rainier in the background.

And here is the view looking back toward the northern peak from the southern peak:

Time for lunch break on the way back down via the western side of the loop, with Mt. Adams on the horizon:

What a great day!

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