From a distance, 4,390-foot Silver Star Mountain may appear unassuming—but take a second look. The little-known ridge rising above southern Washington’s forested hills delivers some of the region’s most outstanding views.
On this moderately difficult 13.6-mile out-and-back to the five-pointed summit, you’ll hike through a region dotted with open meadows and exposed rocky outcropping—vestiges of the enormous Yacolt burn of 1902. Another perk: Forest fires like the Yacolt, plus rocky soil and high winds, lead to an abundance of wildflowers like star tulips, tiger lilies, and broadleaf lupine from mid-June to mid-July. Several paths wind up to Silver Star’s peak, but the most spectacular approach is the 6.6-mile Bluff Mountain Trail, which follows a view-packed ridge south and west. On a clear day, the summit offers views of Mount Rainier and the Olympics to the north, Oregon’s Three Sisters to the south, and, with binoculars, the skyscrapers of downtown Portland. Continue .2 mile southwest on an unmarked trail from the top to a tucked-away campsite beside a small spring, then retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Info: Map: Green Trails Bridal Veil, Lookout Mountain. (360) 449-7800; www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/
Hike provided by Douglas Lorain, author of Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver (Wilderness Press)