This loop takes a while to get going, but offers great views that few people experience -- better than the two more standard ways up Silver Star. You'll have over half of this route mostly to yourself. Overall, this loop is easy to do along a mix of singletrack and rocky forest road-like trails, aside from the short scramble up Sturgeon Rock
. You'll get to see St. Helens, Hood, Rainier, and Adams on decent days, and even Jefferson and the Sisters if you squint on clear days.
Parking at Grouse Vista Trailhead requires a Washington Discovery Pass.
Parking for this loop is available at Grouse Vista Trailhead on L-1200, a rocky dirt road that should be navigable for any low clearance vehicle. This is a popular trailhead because most vehicles can get to it - unlike the shortest and easiest route to Silver Star Summit
from the north off of NF-4019 - and the Grouse Vista 180F trail (AKA Pyramid Trail) is a very popular out-and-back.
Begin running north and you'll come to a very obvious fork with the Tarbell Trail
, which you should take to the left. This singletrack trail is popular with mountain bikers. At about 1.75 miles, you'll come to Rock Creek Falls, which is nothing special (but the bridge is nice). Thereafter, you'll begin to climb through a region that was very recently logged (early 2019?). The logging roads can make the trail a little confusing to follow, so bring along Hiking Project for help. You need to cross the roads a few times, but should never need to run on the roads themselves.
At just shy of 3 miles, you'll need to look for Sturgeon 180C, an unmarked but fairly clear doubletrack trail that heads east from Tarbell Trail
. You'll be on a bank above a new logging trail when you come to this intersection. Sturgeon 180C begins slogging straight up, but it is at least out of the logging areas.
Finally you'll come to a level clearing with evidence of a fire circle. Look for faint doubletrack in the grass on the north side. This leads you to the Sturgeon Rock
"trail." This is when the loop goes from "okay" to "great." You'll need to scramble a bit to get onto the shoulder of the rock, but after the scramble the route is easy (be mindful of the steep edges though). You'll get amazing views of the four nearby volcanoes, wildflowers, Pyramid Rock, and the crowded summit of Silver Star. Moreover, you'll likely have Sturgeon Rock
Retrace your route back to Sturgeon 180C trail - there is a small spur that is easy to spot when you get back to the scramble that can save some backtracking. To make this more of a loop and to get a few views of the interesting volcanic columns that make up Sturgeon Rock
, take the unmarked but fairly obvious spur to the north, right at the eastern end of the rock. This will drop you out at the intersection of Silver Star Trail #180
and Ed's Trail #180A.
Head south (right) and follow the obvious wide rocky road that is Silver Star Trail #180
to another obvious (but unsigned) intersection with Silver Star Summit Trail #180D
. This is also a wide rocky road/trail, and will be crowded. This takes you right up to Silver Star Summit
without any obstacles. Enjoy the fantastic views - including down to Sturgeon Rock
Might as well hop up the secondary summit spur trail for a few more views while you're here.
Retrace your steps down Silver Star Summit Trail #180D
but turn south (left) onto Silver Star Trail #180
. Follow this a short distance to Grouse Vista #180F (AKA Pyramid Trail) and head south (right). The first section on this trail is loose rock, so be careful. Eventually this trail opens up and offers beautiful views of Pyramid Rock and Sturgeon Rock
, with okay views of Silver Star Summit
if you look behind you. It lacks good views of the Cascade Volcanoes, though. Follow this trail all the way, pass Tarbell Trail
, and arrive back at the trailhead.
Over 100 types of wildflowers have been documented on Silver Star.