Silver Star Mountain

Summit: 4,364ft

Native land of the: Cowlitz and Grand Ronde

7m+ 2040ft+ gain

This bare, rocky peak is one of the most prominent landmarks in the Portland/Vancouver area. Although not to be confused with the Silver Star Mountain in the North Cascades that is twice as tall. This Silver Star is located 20 miles away from us in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest just north of the Columbia River Gorge. It’s become our new home mountain since moving to Vancouver! For a relatively short hike the payoff is a glorious unobstructed view of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson! Only the mountains I just listed are better spots to witness a sunset from in southwestern Washington. Since moving in April ‘20 we have hiked up Silver Star and its many unique rock formations five times and we can’t wait for all the trips to come!

Silver Star from the air. Saint Helens and Rainier in the distance.
From Larch Mountain (OR)
From Cape Horn
From Larch Mountain (WA)
From WSU Vancouver. Larch Mountain (WA) on the right.
Larch Mountain (WA) from Larch Mountain (OR)

1st Trip: 5/24/2020

There are a handful of trails to choose from but the closest and easiest to get to is the Grouse Vista trailhead. You still have to drive about 8 miles on a very rocky gravel road after passing Larch Corrections Center. Thankfully no popped tires and we haven’t been locked up.

The first section of the hike is steep and rocky but once you get out of the forest the trail eases back and the first rock outcrop appears in front of you. Pyramid Rock is one of the many fun little side trips so we gave it a go. We took a short spur that lead us to a tall grassy meadow between Pyramid Rock and an unnamed sub peak. We then followed a faint path through the grass and scrambled up the exposed rock. Hood was looking good!

Mount Hood (Wy’east)
Looking back at Pyramid Rock

We then continued up the trail passing under Pyramid Rock before it picked back up in steepness. While on the ridgeline we had a nice view of the southern Washington foothills until re-entering the forest.

Gizmo!

Not after long we reached a saddle between the two summit points. We went straight for the true summit and enjoyed clear views of the Cascade volcanoes with great friends!

Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams
Saint Helens and Rainier
Saint Helens (Loowit)
Rainier (Tahoma)
Adams (Pahto)
Hood (Wy’east)
Jefferson (Seekseekqua)
Old Snowy Mountain and Gilbert Peak in the Goat Rocks.
Sturgeon Rock, a large basaltic monolith.

The views from Silver Star’s summit most certainly lived up the hype. Thanks to the great weather we got to show our wonderful friends the best of Vancouver! This mountain has so much to offer!

2nd Trip: 5/27/2020

We loved Silver Star so much that Ellie, Moose and I returned three days later for a weekday sunset hike! The weather was excellent once again and we made it up the mountain quickly only stopping for snow zoomies.

The south summit has a bigger view of Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson.

The north summit has it all so that’s where we waited for the sunset and enjoyed a few local brews.

Adams (Pahto)
Rainier (Tahoma)
Saint Helens (Loowit)
Hood (Wy’east)
Olallie Butte and Jefferson

The changing light was gorgeous!

Saint Helens and Rainier

We didn’t get any bright colors but it was so clear and beautiful!

Once the sun set we made our way back to the trailhead in the dark while thinking about our next Silver Star trip!

Moose can’t help but smile when snow is around!

3rd Trip: 6/24/2020

A month later Moose and I took an after work hike up Silver Star. Even though we knew we would not get the big views we’ve come to expect we were excited to see the seasonal wildflowers and bag some new sub peaks!

The beargrass was out of control.

We followed the spur trail that takes you to the meadow between Pyramid Rock and Peak 3510. This time we went up the unarmed peak and the wildflowers were lovely!

We then returned to the meadow and continued up the trail to Silver Star. My eyes were locked on the wildflowers with nothing but fog overhead.

Looking over at Pyramid Rock

We took short breaks on both the south and north summits.

Would love to sleep right here on a clear night.

From the summit we set out to hike up the coolest rock formation on the mountain, Sturgeon Rock, a large basaltic monolith. We took a new trail that drops you below Sturgeon Rock and then around and up the west ridge. We made it harder than it needed to be and took a fun scramble to reach the ridge.

It’s then a short slanted walk to the final summit block.

The final steps were too exposed for Moose so I asked him to stay while I went up. The weather was also starting to look worse but it created the most beautiful light below!

Looking back at Silver Star’s summit and Moose being a great listener!

Moose was also pretty tired. He only seems to get tired when it’s hot out and even though it was overcast it was warm for a 10 mile hike. He still did great and just needed more water and breaks than usual.

We followed the grouse vista trail again on the way down and made lots of stops for Moose and wildflowers.

Bee butt

We’ll be back next summer for more wildflowers!

4th Trip: 11/29/2020

With a clear forecast Ellie, Moose and I set out to hike Silver Star on a Sunday morning days after an early season snowstorm! It was a nice cool morning.

We hit snow early on the hike and it was much more enjoyable than the normal rocky trail and double as enjoyable for Moose!

The views were the best we’d experienced yet! The Cascade volcanoes were so crisp and clear!

It was so bright we couldn’t keep our eyes open!
Adams (Pahto)
Rainier (Tahoma)
Saint Helens (Loowit)
Hood (Wy’east)
Jefferson (Seekseekqua)
Sturgeon Rock looking like the fin of a sturgeon.
Moose in his safe place, he loves Ellie so much!

It was so hard to leave the summit with such perfect views all around but eventually we made the slog back to the truck. Microspikes were helpful for us and Mushers secret wax protects Moose’s paws from snow.

Winter is definitely my favorite time to hike Silver Star!

5th Trip: 1/23/2021

One of Ellie’s best friends was in town so we wanted to show her the amazing vistas from our local hill! It was quite cloudy to start but by the time we reached the summit the views opened up and it was just as clear as our last trip!

Saint Helens (Loowit)
Rainier (Tahoma)
Adams (Pahto)

After 10 minutes on the summit clouds rolled in and completely blocked our views. Thank goodness we made it when we did!

To avoid the Saturday crowds we took the Sturgeon Rock and Tarbell trails which lead back to the same trailhead. We only passed two other people so it was a great decision although it’s way less maintained than the Grouse Vista trail. We crossed a few old logging roads and a few creeks.

Moose loved cooling off in the water and we loved the solitude! This was great and well timed adventure! Hopefully my next trip will be overnight.

Larch Mountain(WA) Trip: 10/21/20

Also starting from the Grouse Vista trailhead in the other direction is Larch Mountain, the highest, free standing peak in Clark County (The west ridge of Sturgeon Rock is the highest point). The trail is nice and maintained but the summit is forested and offers no views. Moose and I hiked up Larch on an overcast weekday afternoon. We enjoyed the views of Silver Star along the way but the real perk was having the mountain all to ourselves!

Never a bad day on a mountain!

1 thought on “Silver Star Mountain

  1. Love you have mountains within 20 miles of home. Stories, Moose & wildflower photography put me back in mindset of school. Everyday I learn something is a good day. Thanks.

    Like

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