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Bluff Mountain Trail

HARD 31 reviews

Bluff Mountain Trail is a 10.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Washougal, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 10.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,748 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

no dogs

Directions from Yacolt: Travel southeast on NE Railroad Avenue for 2.4 miles to NE Sunset Falls Road. Follow NE Sunset Falls Road to the forest boundary. At the boundary, follow Forest Route 41 southeast past Forest Routes 4104 and 4109. There is parking for the trail on 41 that is two miles from the trail. Visitors with four-wheel drive vehicles can access the trailhead by continuing on Forest Route 502.

hiking
no shade
over grown
rocky
24 days ago

While there’s minimal shade and some of the trail is a bit overgrown, this hike is quite spectacular! The views are well-worth it. The wildflowers were out of this world. On clear days, you can see mt hood, mt St. Helens, mt Jefferson, mt Adams, and mt rainier all throughout the hike. To get all the way to silver star and back, it’s ~13 miles. Would highly recommend starting early on hot days, so you don’t get scorched by the sun on the way back.

hiking
bugs
no shade
over grown
rocky
1 month ago

Visited 7/1/19 bluff mountain road walk 3.6 miles, 284ft elevation gain 1.24hrs total time. Came here to scout out the entrance by larch correctional area. After reading other reviews. The road is definitely sketch for say a stock Honda crv, but may be doable. Would not recommend for sedans. The road going torwards the gorge was in much better condition but can be overgrown with shrubbery in areas and potholes. Did a short hike on the road with my dad, but did not get to the single track as t-storms were in the forecast that day. There are no bathrooms here and no trail kiosk. Will definitely be back to do this one in full length maybe as point to point with a shuttle car at bluff mountain TH and starting at grouse or something.

hiking
over grown
rocky
1 month ago

Yes, the road stinks. But 4WD isn't necessary, despite what the description says... heck, upon arrival I even saw a pair of sedans parked (although I wouldn't recommend those). Not that you'd get stuck; there's just a ton of potholes on the first half of dirt road after Sunset Falls Campground, and some speed bumps the last few miles on FR 41. Without high clearance you may scrape. The potholes mostly disappear during the final stretch (yay!)... instead it gets rough, rocky, and narrow, with some steep drops (yay?). If it's your first time on this kind of road, it could be nerve-wracking. As someone else mentioned, you can also get here from the same road that passes Ed's Trail and the Tarbell trailhead ("NE Dnr 1100 Rd" to NF-4109 to NF-41, as labeled on Google Maps). NE Dnr 1100 Rd is a much better dirt road, it's true, but the stretch between Ed's Trail to NF-41 is still awful imho. But the awfulness IS much shorter than the crappy section between Sunset Falls campground and NF-41... so pick your poison. I also saw SUVs approach on NF-41 from the east (ie. towards Carson?) but have no idea what the road conditions are like - I'd be interested to know! The trail itself is also not the best constructed - the first section is a rocky abandoned jeep track (just before it ends, look for a turn off on your right), which becomes a brushy narrow trail. Wear pants! You do cross past some rocky slopes as well, but very little of it approached "iffy" territory for me (a short steep section over a rock slide, and a tiny rocky "chute" you kinda hop over). And yes, there is very little shade. So is it worth it? If it's a clear day, that's a big yes. The scenery is spectacular, even from the trailhead. A lot of the trail is open ridges. The wildflowers are countless. And depending on your destination, you can see... pretty much EVERYTHING (see my recommendation below). All the volcanoes, the gorge (even the river), and the Silver Star mountains themselves are very photogenic. It's like a magical slice of the North Cascades. If it sounds like a lot of trouble just to summit Silver Star from a different trail, there is an alternative turnaround point - if you're up for some adventure and an awesome viewpoint, try summiting Little Baldy. You can't miss it - it's the pointy gray peak, like a giant pile of gravel. Be forewarned it is a steep, off-trail scramble to the top. Once you're near (after a nice flat section through a tall pine forest), you'll see it above and to your right. You can start making your way up here, working through the grassy section to reach the ridgeline, or you can try from the far side of the mountain after continuing along the regular trail, but that side seems more brushy (which you'll learn to avoid as much as possible - you can power through, but it's a slog). No matter where you start, you'll eventually be climbing loose rock, but it's grippy and very doable with care. Stick to smaller, more compacted jumbles of rock when possible. You'll even see cairns vaguely guiding the way!

hiking
1 month ago

Wonderful hiking on a beautiful day. Road 41 had so many potholes. My poor Prius had a tough time. Google map guided me to the trail head on a different road that passed the road leading to Ed’s trail. That was better than Road 41. Make sure of wearing long pants and carrying enough water. It took me about four and a half hours except resting time.

hiking
no shade
over grown
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Road up to trailhead is rough, but do able even in a standard car. Just go slow and be careful. Trail is not well marked, but fairly easy to navigate if you plan ahead of time. Very rocky, and one slip might send you down the mountainside. Bring protection from the sun. A little overgrown in some spots, bugs weren't too bad (June 1) Only a few patches of snow near the top of Silverstar, easy to pass. Trail up to summit is not marked and easy to miss. On a Saturday at 1130am there was a gaggle of people at the top, but you will enjoy solitude while on the trail.

hiking
snow
3 months ago

4/28/19: Snow covered much of the trail and blocked the road about a mile out from the trailhead. It made for an excellent workout and fun day! We will definitely come back either in the summer once snow melts, or with better gear, as we were not able to make it past the bluffs once the elevation gain rose quickly due to sliding.

hiking
11 months ago

Would’ve been five stars if I wasn’t socked in until the way back from Silver Star. Can only imagine the views on a clear day. Like other reviews, you’ll need clearance on the Fire Service Road to make it to the trailhead. I entered through Sunset Falls Campground, then left on FS 41. Really straightforward. No cell service, but Google Maps works on GPS alone now, just in case. Once at the trailhead, the first 2 miles are on an old Jeep Road. When you get to the end of that, there’s a little circle with shells and clay pigeons. Cut down and right onto a single track. No sustained climbs. Lots of up, flat, down, and back up. Great mix of terrain from trees/berries/bushes to forest to rocks on the side of mountains. I’m sure my favorite would’ve been Silver Star, but since I had no view, it had to be the forest. There’s a spot where you literally can only see 30 yards in any direction because the tree trunks are so densely packed. I have to second Bradley’s comment about long pants. The trail is fairly overgrown (but still clear and easy to follow) on much of the single track. Also, if you go on a day after rain, wear some waterproof shoes. I was soaked from the waist down from leftover water on the beargrass and other plants. Also, I saw a ton of bear scat in an area filled with blueberries. No bears, though. Total from Bluff Mountain Trailhead to peak of Silver Star and back is 12.5 miles. Took me 4hrs 40 minutes, but again, I wasn’t stopping much to admire all the peaks and valleys I’m sure we’re out in the clouds somewhere. Pick a clear day, if you can. I’ll be back on one.

hiking
Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A great hike through a beautiful section of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There are some steady ascents and descents, but nothing dramatic except for the last small part right before you reach the Silver Star Mountain trail. At the meeting point with Silver Star there is a small campground and a short trail leading up to Silver Star Mountain. In August 2018 there was NO WATER TO BE FOUND anywhere on the trail or at the campsite, so bring more water than you think you'll need, especially if you will be camping. Make sure to go up the Silver Star trail to the top to get amazing 360º views of Washington and Oregon, where on a clear day you can see Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Hood, as well as the Columbia River Gorge and Portland off in the distance. The entire trail is flanked by wild berry bushes and beautiful vistas. If you don't want to get your legs scraped up, be sure to wear full-length pants. And, if you are going, please consider taking a machete to do some trail maintenance, as there is a lot of growth right into the trail that makes walking difficult. As others have noted in the comments, the trail starts about 2 miles down a fire road, so if you have a high-clearance 4WD you can get right to the trail head, otherwise you will be parking at the turn around on NF-41. (This was written 2018-08-07)

backpacking
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Beautiful hike with a good level of ascent and descent to keep it interesting but not super challenging. There are a few possible small camping spots along the hike out there, but mostly they're all at or near the summit (which is where the best source of running water is anyway). The sunset at the summit was amazing! The road out to the TH (NF-41) is a little rough. I was driving a Ford Eco-sport with 4WD and decent clearance and didn't have much of a problem, but a car with average clearance would probably not be able to make it. And 4WD probably isn't completely necessary to make it out there, but I would recommend it. The road conditions were also probably as good as it gets when we went, hadn't rained in quite a while so everything was dry, if it was muddy or snowy at all it would've been a lot more difficult. Also seems like NF-41 is a bit better than the NF-4109 road you take to get to Ed's Trail. Also, its already been said, but don't trust google maps to get you there. It kept trying to take us down the "jeep roads" which can hardly be called roads at all.

hiking
Monday, June 04, 2018

Great hike, some edges are hazardous. Bring lots of water. Road towards hike has a lot of potholes and your vehicle needs about a 4-5in. of clearance to pass some of the bumps.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

I’d definitely do it again but I would forget about Bluff Mountain and just summit Little Baldy and be happy!

hiking
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Couldn’t make it to the TH due to the terrible condition of the road. We bailed halfway to the “parking lot”. Too many potholes, ridges, and ditches for a standard passenger car. You will need AWD and a high clearance vehicle to make it all the way up! There was also snow in the higher elevations. Would try again with a better car in better weather.

backpacking
Sunday, May 21, 2017

A vehicle with 4WD and clearance make a huge difference to get to the TH. The area is gorgeous, but I opted out of hiking yesterday due to the amount of snow still on the trail (feet). It was maybe doable, but the snow was really wet/had tunnels running under it. I had microspikes on but was alone and didn't want to fall through and twist an ankle. Will definitely be back in a month to try again!

hiking
Sunday, November 13, 2016

Great hike. Saw only two groups of hikers the entire time. My biggest complaint was Google Maps gave me really bad directions to the trailhead. Use directions to Sunset Falls Campground. Then cross the bridge and turn left (East). The roads are a lot better and it will literally shave off 30 minutes of travel time. https://goo.gl/bYdDQU

hiking
Monday, September 26, 2016

Such a great trail with breathtaking views. The worst part was the road to the trail, countless monster potholes. But it's doable with the right rig. Highly recommend this trail, especially on a clear day. You can see soooo much. Plus if you're feeling more ambitious the trail keeps going along the ridge, not sure how far though.

hiking
Sunday, June 23, 2013

This is the longest route to get to Silver Star Mountain but it has so much to offer. Fewer people use this trail so you'll never feel crowded even when there is quite a crowd of hikers at the summit. Odds are that they came in from a different trail. The views are outstanding, especially those from the side of Little Baldy and the long open ridgeline that connects Little Baldy to the flank of Silver Star Mtn. Lots of wildflowers to see along the way and some years, like this year, the bear-grass blooms are an incredible display to witness. I wouldn't recommend doing this hike in really hot weather because of the lack of opportunities to get out of the sun but, other than that, this is an amazing hike that I have done many times and highly recommend to others.

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

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