Ok, this is not the official name for this almost loop hike but since this is the second time around it, I guess I get to name it right? Silver Star is still one of my favorite spots for a day hike. There are multiple approaches from easy to hard and a couple that can be combined into a larger loop. This route combines the Starway Trail with the Bluff Mountain Trail completing an almost loop with a car shuttle. The first time I did this loop, several years ago, we got some snow that forced us to add a bit of distance to get to the car and some route finding. This time we were lucky to have perfect weather and conditions for a fantastic hike. Getting to the entry point for the Starway trail is not as hard as getting to Ed’s trail but still requires a high clearance car and being ok with one or two scratches on the paint. Once you’re there, the adventure starts by crossing Cooper Creek over a bridge and starting to climb. Most of the elevation gain happens very quickly as you gain about 2500’ in 2.5 miles. At this point, when you’re also ready to pass out, you reach a summit that can be a bit deceiving. The first time I did the Starway trail, this is a far as I got. It’s still worth the effort nonetheless as the views of surrounding peaks is spectacular. It truly makes you think you are at the Silver Star summit but that’s not the case. Around you there are multiple canyons and the highest peak, across from the canyon looking southwest is Silver Star. Coming to that realization makes you ask yourself what you are doing. Well, that’s part of the adventure. From there the trail is faint in places but the overall direction is simple to follow. As you travel south, the trail descends quickly to a saddle in the forest and then starts gaining elevation again. As long as you keep going in that general direction, you’ll eventually hit the Bluff Mountain Trail. Along this section, the views are dominated by the Star Creek Canyon and some waterfalls you can clearly see. One in particular falls into a slot canyon sideways. I’ve yet to find a route to it but that’s a future project. As you continue, if you’re lucky, or have good navigation skills, you’ll get to the clearly marked junction with the Bluff Mountain trail. Another sign that will tell you you’re there is the drop off in front of you and Mt Hood in the distance; this is just a teaser though, views still get better. From that point on it gets easier. Just follow the trail until it joins with Ed’s trail and get to the summit. You’ll notice that I don’t have a lot of pictures from the actual summit. The reason is we got welcomed by a horde of very hungry mosquitoes that quickly made certain to get a taste of us. I don’t think we stayed there over 3 or 4 minutes. We hiked back down to the saddle where a little breeze kept the hungry bastards at bay enough for us to have lunch. After that we retraced our steps to the Starway – Bluff Mountain junction but instead of turning left on the way we came, we continued straight. The trail is pretty easy to fallow and has some gentle ups and downs as it navigates the ridge. Passing on front of Little Baldy is always interesting as you hike on a trail in the middle of a rock pile. I always wonder what makes the mountain and the rock pile stay in place. Then the trail turns north and passes on the South side of Bluff Mountain. A faint trail seems to indicate you can get to the top of Bluff but I’ve never done that. Scenery changes a bit but you still continue following a ridgeline while descending. After going around two or three smaller peak, you finally get to the Bluff Mountain trailhead. It’s at higher elevation so you don’t descend as much as you climbed which is a welcomed note to your knees before the drive home.
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