Uphill both ways-

8.4mi, 1600 feet elevation gain
Silver Star Roadless Area, Washington

Hands down, one of the best local hiking areas for experiencing wildflowers is Silver Star. Ah, Silver Star.

Even though we haven’t had much of a winter (or any, really, at all), it still is not yet the season for wildflowers. But Silver Star has many, many charms. So, while today isn’t about flowers (yet), it is about introducing a good friend to the wide open beauty that is Silver Star in the shoulder season. The sky is bright and the sun warm (which leaves us alternating between sweating in the sun and putting on puffies in the shade, where ice still lingers on the trail). Today is about the juxtaposition of a landscape poised between its winter and summer selves. Today is about just getting out, feeling the sun and the wind and being under open sky. 

Hood from the Bluff Mountain trail

With J.B. it’s always a late start…the benefit to late starts is experiencing that coveted, late afternoon light. She’s going to be my go to, sunset hiking buddy come summer.

En route to Silver Star I find myself, as I always am, mildly amused by Silver Star’s official name- the Silver Star Roadless Area. The entire area is littered and scarred by old, abandoned jeep roads, and the roads leading to the trailheads aren’t in much better shape. Sometimes it feels like an off road adventure to the trailhead. It’s worth it though. 

homemade trail marker

And today is no exception. We are treated to views of Helens, Adams and Hood, lingering winter colors and a wide open landscape on our trek to Little Baldy. A little-too-late of a start and evening plans in Portland nixes plans to get to Little Baldy’s summit, but it doesn’t matter. We see one other person briefly, on their way back and no other souls all day. Just us and the pups. 

Shenzi nose. Aw, the luv...

The Bluff Mountain trail is a fantastic, lofty ridge walk, and it is possible to follow it past Little Baldy to Silver Star’s summit. I suspect that the best part of the walk opens up here. Stretched out in the sun, enjoying a snack, J.B. and I make future plans for a long, 12+ mile day here this summer amid the flower bloom. 

Summer plans: another two miles to Silver Star's summit from Little Baldy

Making our way back, we traverse one sketchy/almost-washed out section of trail, admiring views of Helens in the distance and commenting how this trail is truly uphill both directions. Initially an old road, the Bluff Mountain trail converts to true trail somewhere around two miles in, then drops into a traverse of a wide open bowl before resuming its climb towards Little Baldy. 

J.B. winding along the cliffs

Like I said, uphill both ways. 


Linda W. said...

I've hiked the Bluff Mtn trail when the flowers are blooming and it is amazing! Be sure and come back in July!

Here's my blog post on the trip:

Jan W said...

Looks like a beautiful hike.

Amanda said...

Oh, I have seen the glorious flower bloom- missed it last year but determined to hit it this year. I really ought to make it an annual pilgrimage. :) A friend introduced me to Silver Star a few years ago, and I absolutely love it. Ed's trail is fantastic too, but the road suuuuuuucks....

Amanda said...

It is a lovely hike, Jan, especially in full bloom. Flower. Explosion.

I live vicariously thru you with the North Cascades. I absolutely love wild, wild mountains. Never been up there, but I'm hoping to remedy that this summer. They are on my bucket backpacking list.