Vancouver, WA: Larch Mountain

Leave the crowds behind on this secluded 5.2-mile forest hike to the top of Washington's Larch Mountain, with views of Silver Star, the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood.
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Leave the crowds behind on this secluded 5.2-mile forest hike to the top of Washington's Larch Mountain, with views of Silver Star, the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood.

Instead of following the train of hikers heading north up the side of Silver Star Mountain, turn south instead for the lesser-traveled route up neighboring Larch Mountain. There are no larches, but there are plenty of wildflowers, beargrass meadows, a pretty wooded creek, and opportunities for views of several of the surrounding peaks—including Silver Star.

Where the Tarbell Trail crosses FR1200, head south on an old forest road, choosing the rightmost option that heads uphill. The first half of the trail follows this old road. Its steep and rocky in places, but serviceable. There are no views along the lower section, but the sound of gurgling Grouse Creek can be heard in the canyon below, and the trail is lined with numerous berries and wildflowers, bleeding heart most profusely. Past an area where a clearcut slope can be seen nearby, the trail narrows and begins to contour around the northern flank of Larch Mountain.

Proceed through a wooded glen with a bridge over Grouse Creek. The trail then turns north onto an open slopeside with wide views taking in Silver Star, Dole Valley, and Mount St. Helens. This is the best view on the trail. Continue on as the trail turns southward again, thinning and becoming more rocky, then passes through a small beargrass meadow. At an unsigned junction 0.25 mile from the summit, a faint jeep track leads to a wide open meadow surrounded by trees. Complete the climb at Larch Mountain's 3,496' summit with views extending over Portland and Vancouver.

-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, BoscoMountainPhoto

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.2

Waypoints

LAR001

Location: 45.721752, -122.269274

Larch Mountain trailhead; take the rightmost trail, heading uphill to the southwest.

LAR002

Location: 45.717878, -122.272818

Trail junction; continue straight.

LAR003

Location: 45.715556, -122.280874

Trail skirts a wide clearcut slope.

LAR004

Location: 45.715776, -122.281576

Trail junction; continue straight.

LAR005

Location: 45.715656, -122.282927

Trail fork; veer right, westward.

LAR006

Location: 45.71568, -122.284085

Cross a small drainage culvert.

LAR007

Location: 45.716368, -122.284527

Cross Grouse Creek on a wooden bridge.

LAR008

Location: 45.71693, -122.284462

Cross another drainage culvert.

LAR009

Location: 45.719357, -122.279323

Wide viewpoint of Silver Star Mountain and Mount St. Helens.

LAR010

Location: 45.719929, -122.291034

Trail junction; continue straight.

LAR011

Location: 45.719367, -122.292701

Trail junction; continue straight.

LAR012

Location: 45.718915, -122.293603

Short side trail right leads to a wide, tree lined meadow.

LAR013

Location: 45.717012, -122.296093

Larch Mountain summit; return by same route.

Larch Mtn. Trail

Location: 45.721072, -122.270279

Spring Rain

Location: 45.716518, -122.275257

Grouse Creek

Location: 45.716308, -122.284312

Bleeding Heart

Location: 45.717447, -122.281866

In the Clouds

Location: 45.719454, -122.278948

Spring Color

Location: 45.719904, -122.283068