This trail starts at the Bluff Mountain Trailhead on Forest Road 41 and follows an abandoned forest road for its first 3 miles. Your views are expansive right from the start as you traverse the top of a ridge. Mounts Hood, Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier are usually clearly visible at some point on your journey. In season, this ridge is alive with a multitude of different wildflowers.
After about 1.5 miles, the old road fades into a singletrack trail which makes its way down to a saddle between “Howie” (Point 3740) and Bluff Mountain. This is the low point of your run. From here, you’ll start a gradual climb along the cliffs on the west side of Bluff Mountain, through a bit of forest, to, at 3.5 miles, a saddle between Bluff Mountain and Little Baldy. This will be where you get your first full view of the steep east side of Silver Star Mountain
to the west.
From this saddle, you'll traverse below Little Baldy on its left (west) side, since the trail does not cross its summit. The Yacolt Burn, the massive forest fire that devastated this whole area back in 1902, is the reason that all these peaks remain bald and devoid of much vegetation.
At a little over 5 miles, you reach a junction with the rugged, steep Starway Trail #175
. From here, it’s about 0.8 miles and 700 feet to Silver Star’s summit. As that comes more sharply into view, the trail starts to run along the top of a narrow spine, with numerous basaltic outcrops.
The Bluff Mountain Trail #172 actually by-passes the summit to end at a junction with the Silver Star Trail #180
. To continue to the summit, make a sharp left (south) turn here and run up the rocky closed road for 0.2 miles to another old road junction, turn left (east) again, and head up an even rockier road (Silver Star Summit Trail #180D
) to the top.