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Larch Mountain (Silver Star)

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Lewis River Region
View map below

Length

5.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1150 ft.
Highest Point: 3496 ft.

Rating

3.50 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

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Take a short, rugged trek to a forested summit. Along the way, you'll enjoy beargrass in spring, get some good views of the Silver Star Scenic Area, but the best thing about this hike is the workout.

From the trailhead, set off to the southwest (most hikers here will be northeast-bound, heading to Silver Star via the Grouse Vista Trail). Pass the privy at the trail and head uphill (straight the ridge), climbing up a flank of Larch Mountain. The forest around you is nice enough, and quiet, but the grown-up trees do restrict views. After a mile of climbing, arrive at a small saddle, where there’s evidence of a descending trail to your right having been closed off. Ignore that route and stay straight ahead; in just a few hundred feet, bear right at another fork, heading around the base of a small knoll.

There’s evidence that this reroute is relatively new, and it’s quite an improvement over the straight-up route in terms of trail sustainability. Follow this now-more-gently graded trail as it parallels Grouse Creek. At 1.2 miles, a bridge crossing Grouse Creek is your biggest impediment to progress. It’s been damaged over time, and now sits in Grouse Creek instead of crossing over it.

Find your way around it (upstream is easier than crossing downstream of the bridge) and continue on through mature forest. Alder begins to overtake as the dominant tree species here, just before you pop out onto another shoulder of Larch Mountain for the best views of the hike.

Here, across the way you can see Silver Star Mountain and sometimes Mount St. Helens. There’s not a great place to sit and enjoy a snack though, so continue to the summit, following the trail for 0.7 miles to a junction.  Bear left at this junction and continue another half-mile to arrive at the summit of Larch Mountain.

It may be a little dismaying to be greeted at the summit by a road and several communication towers, but the road is gated, at its base, so you're unlikely to have company in cars. Ignore the towers too, and enjoy views south to the urban centers of Portland and Vancover by walking west a little ways.

 

Larch Mountain (Silver Star)

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.7214, -122.2693 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Lewis River Region

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

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Guidebooks & Maps

USGS Larch Mountain

trail map from Washington DNR website http://file.dnr.wa.gov/publications/amp_rec_yacolt_burn_non_motorized_trails.pdf

Getting There

Heading east on Highway 14, turn left onto the Washougal River Road. (If you're coming from the east, turn right onto the Washougal River Road.)

Drive along this scenic route for nearly seven miles, then turn left and head uphill on NE Hughes Road. Stay on Hughes for 3.2 miles, curving through rural neighborhoods, then make a left onto Skamania Mines Road at the county line.

The paved part of your journey ends at 1.3 miles. This part of the drive can be long, depending on the condition of the road. It’s 1.4 miles on a sometimes-steep graveled road before you bear left at a Y junction. Make another left almost immediately onto DNR Road 1200. Drive for 5.7 miles on this rough road to the trailhead. There is an outhouse here, and parking for probably 20 cars.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Larch Mountain (Silver Star)

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