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Hiking Silver Star Mountain SW Washington Trip report Washington

Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista – 6/24/2019

We continued to rearrange our vacation plans based on a seemingly ever changing forecast. On Sunday night the Monday forecast for Silver Star Mountain was mostly sunny so we decided to make our third visit to the area. Our first hike at Silver Star Mountain began at the Silver Star Mountain Trailhead in 2013 (post). The road to that trailhead has become extremely rough and is now only recommended for high clearance vehicles. Then in 2015 we used the Bluff Mountain Trail to visit Silver Star (post). A better road but still a bit rough and further away.

For this visit we would start at the Grouse Vista Trailhead. We took the Battleground approach described in the trailhead link which was a mostly paved road approach with just a final 5.5 miles of decent gravel driving.

The Tarbell Trail crosses the road at the trailhead. The route to Silver Star begins on the far side of the road, opposite the restrooms and signboard. (A Washington Discover Pass is required to park here.)
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The trail climbs from the start as it follows an old roadbed uphill.
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The Tarbell Trail splits off just before the .2 mile mark allowing for a loop. We stayed right at the fork on the Grouse Vista Trail.
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The trail gains 500′ over the next half mile as it climbs up a ridge end. The rocky surface provides an added challenge.
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As the trail begins to emerge from the trees Sturgeon Rock is visible across the Rock Creek Valley (when clouds aren’t hovering over it). The loop route that we were considering would have us descending beneath Sturgeon Rock.
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The trail continued to climb around the ridge and we soon found ourselves with a view of Pyramid Rock (and the Sun).
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IMG_0311Sturgeon Rock (still with cloud) and Pyramid Rock

A smattering of flowers were popping up along the trail as we approached Pyramid Rock.
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Shortly before reaching Pyramid Rock we detoured on a spur to the right that lead up to a meadow in a saddle.
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Here we had what would turn out to be our only view of a Cascade volcano on the day as Mt. Hood rose above a mass of clouds over the Columbia River Gorge.
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We returned to the trail and continued heading toward Sturgeon Rock past ever improving flower displays.
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IMG_0344paintbrush and mountain spirea

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IMG_0373A penstemon

IMG_0374More penstemon

IMG_0377Variety pack

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IMG_0392Another variety pack

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As we neared the junction with the summit trail we could see that clouds had now overtaken Pyramid Rock.
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They were moving up the Rock Creek drainage heading for the summit of Silver Star so when we arrived at the large rock cairn marking the junction we decided that we would skip the summit for now and head north on the Silver Star Trail.
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IMG_0402Avalanche lilies near the junction.

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We headed out along the Silver Star trail which began on top of the ridge. This was a new section of trail for us as we had done a big loop around the ridge on our first visit. There wasn’t much visible at the first viewpoint we arrived at but we were able to see Little Baldy which the Bluff Mountain Trail passes along.
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We followed this trail along the ridge for just over a mile and a half passing in and out of the clouds as they in turn passed over the area. The lack of views was mildly disappointing but the flowers more than made up for it.
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IMG_0441Sturgeon Rock momentarily out of the clouds.

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We arrived at Ed’s Trail having already seen a wide variety of flowers.
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We turned up Ed’s Trail wondering if we could possibly see any more types.
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For the most part it was the same cast but in continuously different combinations.
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There were a few new sightings though.
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And some we’d seen but not a lot of yet.
IMG_0652Bleeding heart

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IMG_0682An aster or fleabane

A unique feature of Ed’s Trail is a rock arch just past the one mile mark.
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IMG_0680Backside of the arch.

Beyond the arch the next quarter of a mile gets a little tricky. There are two short but steep scramble sections. The first was a bit muddy making it a little slick. The second is a rocky section with pretty good holds.
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We had forgotten just how steep these places were and had considered doing the loop in the opposite direction. We were glad we had not.

Silver Star’s summit soon came into view and although it was cloud free there didn’t appear to be much hope for views of the surrounding mountains anytime soon.
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When we arrived back at the junction we eschewed the .3 mile climb to the summit opting to skip the 250′ climb since we’d been up there twice before and there weren’t going to be any views. Instead we continued past the rock cairn two tenths of a mile and turned down hill on a rocky unmarked roadbed.
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This return route would add about 1.6 miles to the hike, but it would cut down on the amount of time spent descending on a rocky roadbed. We find that toward the end of hikes our feet and lower legs are much more sensitive to uneven terrain, especially loose rocks. We had been down this 1.4 mile section of road before passing the basalt columns of Sturgeon Rock.
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Silver Star was not done with the flower show even though we were now in denser forest as we spotted some marsh marigolds and marsh corydalis near a wet area.
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The section of the Tarbell Trail that runs from the Grouse Vista Trailhead to Hidden Falls had been closed on weekdays during much of 2018 due to an active logging operation. There were plenty of signs of it when we arrived at the junction with that trail.
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We turned left onto the Tarbell Trail which followed the new logging road for a bit before crossing it into the clear cut.
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IMG_0733Pyramid Rock from the Tarbell Trail

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After descedning a series of switchbacks the trail left the clear cut and reentred the forest before reaching a footbridge over Rock Creek.
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Beyond Rock Creek the trail traversed the hillside beneath Pyramid Rock wrapping around the ridge end to meet the Grouse Vista Trail. Along this final stretch we noticed some green orchids near a seep that was also popular with butterflies.
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The trailhead parking lot had filled up while we’d been hiking but we only ran into a half dozen people on the trails, far fewer than the number of different flowers we had seen over our 11.1 miles. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista

Categories
Hiking Silver Star Mountain SW Washington Trip report Washington

Lucia & Moulton Falls Parks

It’s been a wet and dreary winter in the Pacific Northwest so when a halfway decent forecast came along we jumped on it and headed out for our March hike. Our destination was a pair of Clark County, WA parks along NE Lucia Falls Road and the North Fork Lewis River.

We began our day with 1 mile warm-up hike at Lucia Falls Regional Park. A loop passes through the park and along the river past viewpoints of the modest Lucia Falls.

Lucia Falls Park

Lucia Falls Park

North Fork Lewis River in Lucia Falls Park

Lucia Falls

North Fork Lewis River

After our warm-up we hopped back into the car and continued east on Lucia Falls Rd for .3 miles where we veered right onto Hantwick Rd. We followed this road for half a mile to the Hantwick Road Trailhead.

Hantwick Rd. Trailhead

From the trailhead the Moulton Falls Trail follows an old railroad grade 2.6 miles to Moulton Falls Park.

Moulton Falls Trail

The trail crossed several streams which were flowing nicely and also passed a long pond.

Pond along the Moulton Falls Trail

Small fall along the Moulton Falls Trail

Stream along the Moulton Falls Trail

Beyond the pond the trail neared the East Fork Lewis River.

East Fork Lewis River

Just beyond the 2 mile mark we came to the Bells Mountain Trail junction. We planned on heading up the trail a ways after visiting Moulton Falls Park so for now we took a photo of the sign and continued on.

Bells Mountain Trailhead along the Moulton Falls Trail

A little further along the trail we spotted cars on the far side of the river in the park’s parking lot. Moulton Falls was visible below, a small 10′ cascade.

Moulton Falls

We crossed the river on a scenic footbridge.

East Fork Lewis River

Footbridge over the East Fork Lewis River

The trail split on the far side of the bridge and we forked right heading uphill toward Yacolt Creek Falls. The trail climbed to an upper parking lot which appeared to still be closed for the winter before dropping back down to a crossing of Lucia Falls Rd. On the far side of the road were a couple of picnic tables and a small pullout above Yacolt Creek Falls. The trail continued down some stairs to a seasonal footbridge.
Yacolt Creek Falls

The footbridge pivots and was still in its winter position making it impossible to complete the loop shown on the park map.

Yacolt Creek Falls

We were a little confused by this as well as by the placement of the falls on the map. The star marking the location appeared to be further up the creek along a spur trail that extended north off the loop on the other side of Big Tree Creek. The fact that the falls at the footbridge were on Big Tree Creek and not Yacolt Creek also made us question whether or not this was actually Yacolt Creek Falls. We decided to walk down Lucia Falls Road and pick up the other side of the loop where it crossed the road. We turned back uphill on the loop trail on the east side of Big Tree Creek and quickly arrived at a viewpoint of the falls and bridge.

Yacolt Creek Falls

Yacolt Creek Falls

We found the spur trail shown on the map leading up and away from the viewpoint. We followed this path less than 100 yards past a sign for Yacolt Creek Falls to the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad and Moulton Station.

Moulton Station

Sign for the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad

Despite the fact that the Yacolt Creek Falls sign seemed to support the falls we’d just come from as being the correct ones we were still unsure based on how we were reading the park map.

Yacolt Creek Falls sign

Sign for Yacolt Creek Falls

We passed through Moulton Station and continued along the tracks for a bit before deciding that we were on a wild goose chase. We had failed to take into account the scale of the map and just how short the distances reflected on the map were. It was a good early season reminder to pay attention to the map scale. We turned around and headed back past Yacolt Creek Falls and descended to Lucia Falls Road which we crossed.

To the right was the parking lot at Moulton Falls which was filling up pretty quickly and to the left was the continuation of the loop. If we’d have gone right a short distance we would have come to a viewpoint with a close up of Moulton Falls, but we’d seen them from the other side of the river already so we turned left. The trail crossed Big Tree Creek on a footbridge then led to a nice viewpoint of the bridge over the East Fork Lewis River.

East Fork Lewis River

Footbridge over the East Fork Lewis River

Beyond the viewpoint the trail climbed up away from the river completing the loop. We recrossed the footbridge and headed back toward the Bells Mountain Trail. This trail provides access to  Silver Star Mountain.  We weren’t going to be going anywhere near that far on this day though, instead we decided to pick a turn around time based on when we started on the trail.

It was 10:25am when we started up the Bells Mountain Trail so we gave ourselves until 12:30pm and then we’d turn around hoping that would get us home around 5pm. The trail climbed fairly steeply at first but soon leveled off in a young forest.

Bells Mountain Trail

After the initial climb the trail did a series of ups and downs crossing several streams and logging roads as it passed through alternating sections of clear cuts and trees.

Bells Mountain Trail

Bells Mountain Trail

Bells Mountain Trail

Bells Mountain Trail

Creek along the Bells Mountain Trail

Clear cuts along the Bells Mountain Trail

Due to the amount of logging activity in the area the trail is subject to periodic closures so make sure to check ahead if you’re planning on visiting.

The trail was in really good shape and there was good signage at the road crossings as well as mile markers every half mile.

Bells Mountain Trail

Bells Mountain Trail

The mile posts actually played into our turnaround point as we arrived at the 4.5 mile marker at 12:25 which was exactly 2 hours after having set off on the Bells Mountain Trail.

Bells Mountain Trail

Despite setting 12:30 as our turn around time being at the mile marker exactly 2 hours after having started out seemed to demand our calling it so we tapped the post and headed back. On the way back the clouds lifted enough to reveal Silver Star Mountain.

Silver Star Mountain from the Bells Mountain Trail

Silver Star Mountain

Silver Star Mountain and Sturgeon Rock

We were really feeling the effects of not hiking regularly on the way back. We hadn’t really been paying that much attention to how far we’d gone but our feet knew it was a lot further than the 10 miles I’d originally planned on for the day. By the time we’d made it back to the Hantwick Road Trailhead we’d gone 17.8 miles, but we’d finished a little before three so we were on track to be home by five. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lucia & Moulton Falls

Categories
Hiking Silver Star Mountain SW Washington Trip report Washington

Bluff Mountain Trail to Silver Star Mountain

Late June is typically a good time to catch the wildflower displays on Silver Star Mountain in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. Located in Washington between the Columbia Gorge and the snowy peaks of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams the Silver Star Scenic Area offers several trails. Many of the trails pass through areas that were part of the 1902 Yacolt Burn, the largest fire in Washington State’s history. The series of September fires left exposed ridges and hillsides which are now wildflower filled meadows. The two most popular routes to Silver Star Mountain are via the Silver Star Trail/Ed’s Trail, a 5.2 mile loop, and an 8.2 mile loop via the Grouse Vista Trailhead. Each of these starting points come with their own drawbacks. Road 4109 which leads to the Silver Star Trail is an awful drive full of rocks, ruts, and potholes. The Grouse Vista Trailhead is on Washington Department of Natural Resource land and thus a Discovery Pass is required to park a car there. Passes are currently $10/day or $30/annually. We had done an expanded loop starting on the Silver Star Trail in 2013 https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/silver-star-mountain/ and didn’t feel like shelling out another $10 for a discovery pass so for this visit we chose a third option – the Bluff Mountain Trail.

The Bluff Mountain Trailhead has its drawbacks too, mostly a slow drive on a rock and pothole filled Forest Service road. I don’t think it is as bad as road 4109, you do pass this road on the way to the trailhead, but it is longer and took us a little over 45min to cover the 9.4 miles. It is also the longest route to Silver Star at 6.5 miles one way. The trailhead is at a poorly marked junction where the road bends around a ridge at a large swath of dirt. Only a small wooden stake marks the start of the trail which follows an old roadbed for the first 2 miles.
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Both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams were visible from the trailhead parking area. It was going to be another hot day here with the highs near 90 degrees, but it was also fairly cloudy so the air was humid and the horizon hazy. We had prepared for the heat by filling the bladders for our packs the night before and leaving them in the refrigerator, bringing a couple of additional Hydro Flasks full of water, and packing some extra salty items such as potato chips and some after hike pickles.
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The old road traveled along ridges past a couple of small hills where a few trees were present. After passing the first of these hills Silver Star Mountain was visible in the distance.

Silver Star Mountain on the far right.
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There were still quite a few flowers along the ridge despite the hot and dry conditions, and there seemed to be butterflies everywhere we looked.
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There were even some huckleberries beginning to ripen.
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One sight that was not welcome was a fire pit filled with garbage where someone had obviously been shooting a shotgun.
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This is something we see far too often and it’s really disappointing that people bother to head out into nature just to make it their personal garbage can.

We continued along the road toward Bluff Mountain amid the wildflowers and butterflies. The views kept shifting as the old road made its way around the small hills along the ridge.
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Little Baldy
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Silver Star Mountain and Little Baldy
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At the two mile mark the trail left the road and diped along the right hand side of a small knoll. At the split the view included all three of the peaks we would be passing – Bluff Mountain, Little Blady, and Silver Star Mountain.
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It was interesting to be able to see so much of our route due to the open views. Often times we could see the trail in the distance giving us a glimpse of what lay ahead.
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The section of trail between the road and Bluff Mountain was full of flowers. Some had seen better days a week or two before but many were still blooming strong and crowding the trail.
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In addition to the numerous butterflies we were seeing we also spotted several snakes during the hike. This one was spotted as we were passing below Bluff Mountain.
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New flowers and more butterflies joined the views as we passed under the cliffs of Bluff Mountain.
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There were also lots of thimble and salmon berry bushes. The thimbleberries were not ripe yet but we found plenty of red and orange salmonberries ready to be eaten.
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Looking back from where we’d come we could see three Cascade mountains. (Some better than others)
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Mt. St. Helens
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Mt. Rainier
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Mt. Adams
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After passing through the thick berry bushes the trail crossed a rock field then entered an forest of trees on a wide ridge between Bluff Mountain and Little Baldy.
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We spotted a small rock cairn and what looked like a possible trail leading off to the right but didn’t have time to investigate.
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When we emerged from the trees we were in a small meadow with a view of Mt. Hood.
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The meadow was full of yellow flowers.
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We also spotted some of my favorite flowers – gentians.IMG_4981

We were now on the opposite side of Little Baldy from what we’d been seeing all morning. Silver Star Mountain spread out ahead of us across a deep valley.
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Little Baldy looked like a giant rock pile with a few patches of vegetation growing on its flanks.
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Gentians dotted the trail wherever plants were able to grow.
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As were were walking we started to hear a loud noise in the distance. At first I thought it might be thunder since the forecast had called for some storms later in the afternoon, but the noise kept growing and getting closer. Heather was the first to identify it as helicopters and then we spotted three of them crossing the sky above Silver Star.
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At the 5 mile mark we reached the junction with the Starway Trail. This trail starts on the same Forest Service Road as the Bluff Mountain Trail but at an elevation almost 2000′ lower and is reportedly difficult to follow due to light usage and maintenance. We had watched for the trailhead during the tedious drive along road 41 but were unable to spot it on the way up or back down in the afternoon.
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We were now on the final half mile section of the Bluff Mountain Trail before its end at the Silver Star Summit Trail. The trail skirted along the ridge amid wildflower covered slopes and mountain views.
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I had been trying to get one of the many lighter colored butterflies to land long enough for a picture and finally a pink-edged sulpher landed long enough for one.
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As we neared the end of the trail it suddenly forked with the left hand path heading up the hillside while the right hand side turned and began a traverse along a ridge away from the summit. We initially went right due to that fork looking more like an official trail than the left hand fork but we were getting further from the summit and starting to lose some elevation. I checked the map then the GPS unit and decided we should have taken the narrower left hand fork up so we hiked back and took the other path up to a camp site next to an old road that serves as the Silver Star Summit Trail. The only sign in the area was a small metal plate attached to a tree at the campsite.
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We turned up the old road and headed for Silver Stars dual summits.
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The views are great all along the long summit of the mountain. Our route was laid out below us all the way to the large dirt parking area where we’d left our car that morning.
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On our previous visit we had visited the southern summit first so this time we headed for the northern rocky summit where a lookout tower once stood.
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We took a seat on the rocks and ate the potato chips we’d brought along for their extra salt. They really hit the spot after all the hot climb we’d just finished. While we were relaxing and enjoying the view another pair of hikers arrived. I noticed a yellow button hanging from one of their packs and thought it might be a “I’m A Portland Hiker!!” button that some of the members of Oregonhikers.org (formerly Portlandhikers.org) had. It turned out to be miah66 from the forum and a friend who had come up the Silver Star Trail and was planning to return via Ed’s Trail. This was the second time that we’d crossed paths with another member of the forum but the first time we realized it at the time. The first time it wasn’t until we saw a trip report posted on the website that we realized we had passed another forum member.

After a nice conversation we headed to the southern summit then started back down the road. As we were starting to turn into the campsite and the start of the Bluff Mountain Trail miah66 caught up to us. He had realized that he had an extra button which he was nice enough to gift us. After a group photo it went straight on my pack.
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It was a warm hike back to the car but the views and the butterflies helped keep our minds off the heat. We arrived back at the car with a little water to spare and a shiny new button. 🙂 Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157655183073161

Categories
Year-end wrap up

The hikes of 2013 – A year in review.

What an amazing year of hiking it was! As we reach then end of 2013 we thought we’d make one final entry recapping the beautiful areas and unique features we were blessed enough to encounter while out on our “wanderings”. We began the year in February at the Oregon Coast, hiking at Gwynn Creek and Cape Perpetua then finished up just a couple of weeks ago, once again on the Oregon Coast at Tillamook Head, 140 miles north of where we had started. Sandwiched in between these two hikes were 40 other adventures in which we climbed mountains, crossed rivers, and scrambled cross-country to explore a small sampling of the trails of NW Oregon and SW Washington. We put together a map of the approximate location of the trailheads for each of the hikes.
2013 Trailheads
An interactive version can be viewed on mapquest using the following link.
http://mapq.st/1bQXoXo

I’ve always been interested in numbers so I have kept quite a few statistics regarding these 42 hikes. Here are some of those that I found most interesting. We visited 10 wilderness and 2 scenic areas in 8 different national forests. In addition to the national forests we hiked in 4 state parks and at a national volcanic monument. Some of the other numbers are as follows:
Total Miles (according to the Garmin) – 515.2
Cumulative Elevation Gained (approx.) – 88,000′
Minimum/Maximum Elevation – sea level/10,358′
Total Moving Time (per the Garmin) – 240hrs 36min
Total Time on the Trails (per the Garmin) – 280hrs 6min
Total Miles Driven (approx.) – 7550 miles

For the most part the weather was good. We had a warm, dry end to Winter which carried into Spring clearing many trails of snow earlier than normal. This allowed for some earlier visits to some of the higher elevation areas and also an early bloom for most of the wildflowers including the bear grass which only blooms every 2nd or 3rd year. A mild summer kept temperatures bearable and despite the dry beginning to the year the fire season wasn’t too bad. Fall brought an early snowstorm and left an early winter wonderland at mid-elevations and some unusually cold temperatures of late created some interesting ice displays.

Words can’t do justice to the beauty of God’s creation that we experienced this so year I’ll try to keep them to a minimum and attempt to let pictures show what they can.
I have to start with the Cascade Mountains. The most awe inspiring creations, these steadfast beacons that on clear days dot the horizon always seem to draw our attention.

From the rim of Crater Lake in the south to Mt. Rainier in the north they rise above the other ridges, rooted in their positions, yet ever changing in order or varying in appearance depending on what our location was. Some of the views we had were amazing.

Mt. Scott, Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Baily, & Diamond Peak from the South Sister Summit
View from the South Sister
Cascade Peaks from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood (minus the North Sister which was hidden behind the Middle) from Mt. Fuji
Waldo Lake
Mt. Washington to Mt. Hood from the Pacfic Crest Trail near Yapoah Crater
Belknap Crater, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson & Mt. Hood
Mt. Washington to Mt. Bachelor from Three Fingered Jack
Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and The Husband
Mt. Rainier, The Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams from Wildcat Mountain
Mr. Rainier, The Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams from Silver Star Mountain
View from Ed' Trail

Individual peaks working from the south to the north.
Mt. Thielsen:
From Fuji Mountian
Mt. Thielsen

Diamond Peak:
From Waldo Mountain
Fuji Mountain and Diamond Peak
From Fuji Mountain
Diamond Peak

Mt. Bachelor:
From Fuji Mountain
Mt. Bachelor
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Mt. Bachelor

Broken Top:
From above Moraine Lake
Broken Top and Moraine Lake
From Fuji Mountain
Broken Top and Ball Butte
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Broken Top

South Sister:
From above Moraine Lake
South Sister Climbers Trail
From Tam MacArthur Rim
South Sister
From Fuji Mountain
South Sister

Middle & North Sister
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Middle and North Sister
From Scott Meadow
North & Middle Sister and Little Brother from Scott Meadow
From the South Sister
South Sister summit view

Mt. Washington
From the Matthieu Lakes Trail
Mt. Washington
From Fuji Mountain
Mt. Washington and Belknap Crater
From Three Fingered Jack
Mt. Washington and The Husband

Three Fingered Jack:

From the Matthieu Lakes Trail
Three Fingered Jack
From Canyon Creek Meadows
Three Fingered Jack from the upper meadow

Mt. Jefferson:
From Fuji Mountain (Dwarfing Three Fingered Jack)
Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack
From Hanks Lake
Hank's Lake
From Three Fingered Jack
Looking back down
From Bays Lake in Jefferson Park
Bays Lake in Jefferson Park

Mt. Hood:
From Barrett Spur
Mt. Hood from Barrett Spur
From Table Mountain
Mt. Hood from Table Mountain
From Elk Meadows
Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows
From Lamberson Butte
Mt. Hood
From Youcum Ridge
Mt. Hood from Yocum Ridge
From Timothy Lake
Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake

Mt. St. Helens:
Mt. St. Helens
From the Loowit Trail on Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens from the Loowit Trail
From Johnston Ridge
Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Adams:
From Silver Star Mountain
Paintbrush, penstemon and Mt. Adams

Mt. Rainier:
From Wildcat Mountain
Mt. Rainier

From the giant rock towers of the mountains we move on to the delicate meadows full of wildflowers that often times call the mountains home. We visited amazing wildflower displays near Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack but the Cascades were possibly outdone by Silver Star Mountain in Washington.
Bear Grass on Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens from a beargrass meadow along the Loowit Trail
Balsam Root and Paintbrush in the Ochoco National Forest
Paintbrush and balsamroot
Clearcut on Silver Star Mountain
Tarabell Trail
Meadow on Salmon Butte
An arnica in  a meadow of plectritis, larkspur and monkeyflower
Elk Meadows
Elk Meadows
Near Heather Creek on Mt. Hood
Wildflowers along the Timberline Trail at Heather Creek
Mt. Hood Meadows
Wildflowers in Mt. Hood Meadows
Lupine in Canyon Creek Meadows
Three Fingered Jack
On Coffin Mountain
Aster, penstemon and paintbrush
Avalanche Lilies on the Timberline Trail
Avalanche lilies
Western Pasque flowers and Paintbrush near Elk Cove
Mt. Hood from the Timberline Trail near Elk Cove
Barret Spur on Mt. Hood
Lupine and monkeyflower
Gentians in Jefferson Park
Gentians
Jefferson Park
Wildflowers along the South Breitbenbush Trail
Along the South Brietenbush River in Jefferson Park
Wildflowers along the South Breitenbush River
Aster on Yocum Ridge
Aster field on Yocum Ridge
On Yocum Ridge
Wildflowers along the Yocum Ridge Trail
More from Yocum Ridge
Paintbrush and aster

There weren’t many hikes where the presence of water was not felt. We encountered it in various forms and in an array of colors. There were lakes, creeks, rivers, waterfalls, springs, and the Pacific Ocean adding sights and sounds to our hikes.
Roaring Creek
Roaring Creek
McKenzie River
Mckenzie River
Tamolitch Pool
Tamolitch Pool
Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Umbrella Falls
Umbrella Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
Heather Creek
Waterfall on Heather Creek
South Matthieu Lake
South Mattieu Lake
Benham Falls
Benham Falls
Carver, Camp, and the Chambers Lakes
Carver, Camp and some of the Chambers Lakes
Lewis Tarn
Lewis Tarn
Creek near Pamelia Lake
Waterfall near Pamelia Lake
Timothy Lake
Timothy Lake
Little Crater Lake
Little Crater Lake
Frozen pond near Fuji Mountain
Half frozen pond
Birthday Lake
Birthday Lake
Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls
Pacific Ocean at Tillamook Head
View from Ecola State Park
Pacific Ocean from Cape Perpetua
Looking south from Cape Perpetua
Last but not least the most unpredictable of the sights out on the trails are the creatures that call these places home. From flying ants on Coldwater Peak to the black bear who left its tracks in the snow on Fuji Mountain we were the tourists traipsing through their neighborhoods. We spotted our first elk, snow shoe hare, and sooty grouse this year. We also had the mysterious case of “mouse rain” on Salmon Butte which you can read about here:https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/salmon-butte/
Crawdads in Middle Rock Lake
Tide pool at Cape Kiwanda
Snail
Rough skinned newt
Snake
Tree frog
Spider along the Tam McArthur Rim Trail
Bug on Fuji Mountain
Frog
Butterflies
Zerene fritillary butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Edith's checkerspot
Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the way up Coldwater Peak
Hoary Comma
Hoary Comma
Clodius parnassian
Birds
Bald eagle
Seagull buffet
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Owl
Gray jay taking a bath
Duck family
Northern Flicker
Osprey
Hummingbird
Red Crossbill
Osprey flying over ducks on Timothy Lake
Hummingbird
Canada geese
Pelicans
Ducks on Wall Lake
Great Blue Heron
Little guys
Chipmunk
Pika
Douglas squirrel
Golden Mantled Squirrels
Snowshoe hare

Big Guys
Our first elk sighting. Near the Observation Peak Trailhead
Columbia Black Tailed Deer
Elk herd on the far shore of the Deschutes River
Elk
Deer near the Lower Black Butte Trailhead

We’d like to leave you with what each of us found to be their favorite hike and the most difficult. For myself Elk Meadows was my favorite. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/elk-meadows/ The variety and beauty we encountered on that hike put it atop my list. As for the most difficult I chose Silver Star Mountain https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/silver-star-mountain/ which was also in the running for my favorite. The heat on that day made it the hardest one for me.

After much deliberation Heather chose the same hike as I did her favorite, Elk Meadows; something about that day had her mesmerized as we traveled up Gnarl Ridge towards Mt. Hood. For the most difficult she picked Observation Peak due in part to having fallen shortly after we stared the hike and spraining her hand and wrist. It made for a more challenging and uncomfortable hike as she endeavored to keep her injury elevated above her heart during most of the journey. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/observation-peak/

Dominique chose Fuji Mountain for his favorite. There was snow and a great view with a reasonable amount of distance. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/fuji-mountain/ For the most difficult he picked Table Mountain and the climb up Heartbreak Ridge. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/table-mountain/

I am already hard at work putting together a 2014 itinerary which will include some overnight backpacking trips and hopefully visits to the Goat Rocks Wilderness and Mt. Adams in Washington. If all goes as planned we will kick things off in January, take things slow until we’ve recovered from our April half or full marathons, and then be ready to crank things up in May. Until 2014 here is a link to a 2013 hikes in pictures album on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635497870439/

Merry Christmas & Happy Trails!

Categories
Hiking Silver Star Mountain SW Washington Trip report Washington

Silver Star Mountain

HOT! That certainly describes our recent visit to Silver Star Mountain, but that would be doing this hike a great disservice. Despite the 90 degree temperatures better descriptions would be amazing flowers, great views, and beautiful scenery. Silver Star Mountain is located in Washington State’s Gifford-Pinchot National Forest between Mt. St. Helens and Portland, OR.

I’d been wanting to visit Silver Star for a long time, but the timing hadn’t been right until now. I had seen a number of trip reports which indicated now was a good time to catch many of the wildflowers that fill the meadows and the weather called for clear skies, the perfect combo. There are a number of possible approaches to the 4390′ summit but for our hike we chose to approach from the north via Ed’s Trail.

The drive to the trail head was tedious with the last 9 miles taking a good 45 minutes due to poor road conditions. Our plan was to hike a big loop sampling as much of the area as we could so we knew we had a long day ahead of us. It was already over 60 when we arrived at the parking area at 7:15. The sky was clear and the birds were out in force as we headed up the north flank towards the junction with Ed’s Trail. Mt. St. Helens loomed behind us and as we climbed Mt. Rainier and later Mt. Adams joined the horizon. As we approached the junction with Ed’s Trail Mt. Hood appeared through a gap ahead surrounding us in Cascade peaks.

Mt. St. Helens & Mt. Rainier from the jct with Ed's Trail
Mt. St. Helens & Mt. Rainier from the jct with Ed’s Trail

Already the flower display had been amazing. The variety of flowers was one of the best we’d seen. There was red paintbrush and columbine, pink nootka rose, purple lupine and iris, orange tiger lilies, white beargrass and thimbleberry, and (new to us) yellow lupine. The meadows here are due in large part to the 1902 Yacolt fire which swept over Silver Star Mountain removing the trees and clearing the way for the flowers. I could easily fill this whole trip report attempting to describe the flowers we saw on this day but the hike had other things to offer as well so I will have to let our photos do much of the flower reporting.
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Ed’s trail was truly scenic as it traversed the NE side of the ridge through wildflower meadows with views of the 4 snowy Cascade peaks. Soon the path passed some rocky areas and passed through a natural rock doorway. Not long after passing through the doorway we scrambled up a short, steep section of the trail as it passed through a rocky slot up to a great viewpoint. A small patch of snow remained surrounded by avalanche lilies.

When Ed’s trail met an old road we took it up to the twin summits of Silver Star mountain. The view from the north summit was a true 360 degree panorama. Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams were joined by snow covered Goat Rocks to the north while Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and the faint Three Sisters rose to the south. The Columbia River and Portland, OR lay to the SW while the ridges and meadows of Silver Star Mountain surrounded us in every direction.

Washington Cascades form the summit
Washington Cascades form the summit

After leaving the summit we continued on to the Indian Pits trail to visit a series of rock pits used as vision quest sights at one time. More wildflower meadows awaited on this trail which ended at a rocky ridge endge with yet another set of wonderful views. As an added bonus we were serenaded by a resident swallow who appeared to be enjoying the view from the top of the rocks as much as we were. It was really starting to warm up as we left the pits and continued on our loop down an abandoned road past sturgeon rock. The old road was actually lined with trees but it was wide enough to remain in the sunlight.

We made our way down the road to the Tarbell Trail which we then turned right (north) on and momentarily entered the forest. The trees didn’t extend far to our left and we could see that much of the hillside below had been clearcut. It is a sight that I don’t particularly enjoy seeing. The stark contrast of the stumps and piles of slash next to the still standing forest always leaves me imagining what it must have once looked like. We were on a collision course with the cut though and soon emerged to the treeless hillside. One of the first things we noticed were the butterflies. They were everywhere and flitting above a vast array of wildflowers. Even the clearcut couldn’t spoil the areas scenery 🙂
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The lack of trees did mean we were once again exposed to the sun and for about 2 miles we switchbacked down and across the hillside before again reaching the forest on the other side. We were greeted by the first sound of water on the hike. The source was Coyote Creek and that was where we would find our next destination, Hidden Falls. What a welcome change to the heat Hidden Falls was. A bench near the 92′ cascade gave us a place to rest while we cooled off courtesy of the breeze created by the falls.
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After another mile and a half on the Tarbell Trail we arrived at the Chinook Trail which would take us up Kloochman Ridge and back to the road we had been on early in the morning. The Chinook trail spent a short time climbing in the forest before emerging in some of the hikes best wildflower meadows. The number and variety of flowers on this ridge trumped all the others we had been through on this day.
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This was also the steepest trail we’d been on and with the temperatures hitting the 90s we needed all the distraction the flowers could provide.

We eventually made it up Kloochman Ridge and then headed back down the road to our car and the extra water that was stashed in our cooler. This was one of the rare occasion when I actually finished off all the water in my Camelbak (1/4mi from the car). Silver Star Mountain had lived up to all the hype I’d seen in the trip reports. With a little something for everyone it’s an amazing area and I highly recommend exploring any of the areas trails. If you’re a fan of beargrass skip next year since it only blooms every 2nd or 3rd year and this year it was on, or better yet go both years and see the difference. Happy Trails and have a safe 4th of July.

Facebook album https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201492927112255.1073741839.1448521051&type=1
Flickr photos -http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157634416726411/