Wildflower bonanza on Silver Star Mountain

With work schedules and other commitments, today was the only day that Greg and I could hike Ed’s Trail on Silver Star Mountain. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to flip off the sunshine switch today, so we were cheated out of views. Thankfully the wildflowers were GLORIOUS!

A warning to those of you that go here. The last 2.7 miles to the trailhead are pretty bad. Large rocks, deep holes, deep trenches. Although I have seen low-clearance cars make it, I personally recommend a high-clearance vehicle.

Starting out from the trailhead, the flower show begins right away, as it always does in early summer.

When Ed’s Trail connected back up with the old road we abandoned our original plan to go to the summit and the Indian Pits. We were cold and damp. So we headed back to the TH via the old road, enjoying Mother Nature’s flower garden the whole way down.

Although the flower display is fabulous right now, there are some flowers that haven’t come out yet. The tiger lilies are JUST getting started, and the gentian haven’t started at all. The flower show should be good for at least another two weeks, depending on the weather.

I adore this hike. I can’t think of any other trail where the wildflowers are this abundant, varied, and widespread. You can’t go more than a tenth of a mile or so without seeing carpets of wildflowers.

Views and wildflowers on Hawk Mountain

I was on my own yesterday since Greg and a friend headed off to Tanner Butte. I really wanted to see the beargrass display up there, but I know my limitations and I know I cannot do that many miles in one day. My legs and feet get VERY sore after about 10 miles.

So I went in search of beargrass elsewhere. Remembering that we had just missed the peak of beargrass at Hawk Mountain on July 14 two years ago, and knowing that everything is 3-4 weeks early this year, I headed there today with my fingers crossed.

I went there via Detroit and came home via Estacada. I stopped to gawk at the alarmingly-low level of Detroit Lake. I heard a boater describe this as sad. I think it’s not sad, but scary, and a sign of the very dry summer we have ahead of us.

Once I hit the trail it was immediately apparent that this is NOT a good beargrass year up there. Here is 2013:

This year:

When I got home I looked it up and beargrass blooms in 5-7 year cycles, so I was three years too early. However the pentstemon were doing their best to make up for the lack of beargrass:

The trail leaves the meadows and meanders through the trees for awhile before launching up to Hawk Mountain. I actually saw signs of recent trail maintenance. Thanks, trail crew!

At the summit there were four guys packing up and heading out, so I ended up having the place to myself. I sure enjoyed the in-your-face views of Mt. Jefferson:

From this angle the mountains to the south are all bunched together (Three Fingered Jack, the Three Sisters, and Mt. Washington):

There were plenty of wildflowers blooming on the summit, including lupine, paintbrush, Oregon sunshine, cat’s ears, and sedum.

The obligatory garbage-in-the-fire-ring shot:

The cabin here is the old living quarters for the fire lookout that once stood here and is now gone. I love before and after shots. Here is Hawk Mountain in 1936:

And in 2015:

I lingered on the the summit for over an hour, enjoying the sunshine, views, and wildflowers. Such a gorgeous day! There are no north-facing views from the summit, but from the trail you can sort of see north a bit and I took a peek on the way back down:

I love this hike. It has a great mix of views and wildflowers. It’s unfortunate that it’s a two-hour drive from Portland because you end up spending more time in the car than on the on the trail. But it’s definitely worth the trip.