One Night Wilderness: Portland: Top Backcountry Getaways Within Three Hours of the City

One Night Wilderness: Portland: Top Backcountry Getaways Within Three Hours of the City

by Becky Ohlsen, Douglas Lorain

Paperback(2nd Revised ed.)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Tuesday, August 3


Your Portland, Oregon, Backpacking Adventure Begins Here

Spend a night or a weekend in the wilderness. Experience the mountains, coast, old-growth forests, gorges, and canyonlands of Oregon and Washington. Local authors Becky Ohlsen and Douglas Lorain guide you to a spectrum of one- and two-night backpacking trips—from short hikes to extended treks of 20 miles.

Explore the Columbia River Gorge, Coast Range, Clackamas River country, Mount Jefferson, and southern Olympic Mountains. Take in the majestic views of the Pacific Northwest’s signature volcanic peaks: Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Rainier. The Portland area is a short jaunt from boundless backpacking opportunities, so get away from the city hubbub to rejuvenate in nature.

Inside You’ll Find

  • 58 featured trips within more than 3 hours of Portland, plus 40 bonus trips
  • Detailed trail descriptions, permit requirements, and more
  • Easy-to-follow maps with directions to backcountry campsites
  • Author ratings for each trip’s scenery, difficulty, and solitude
  • Advice for beginner backpackers and tips for backpacking with children
  • Author recommendations on which trips are great for kids or are dog-friendly

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899978949
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Series: One Night Wilderness
Edition description: 2nd Revised ed.
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,157,012
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Becky Ohlsen has lived in Portland since 1995. She is a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to a variety of publications, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning newsweekly “Willamette Week,” “The Oregonian,” “Portland Monthly” and Lonely Planet, for which she has written several guidebooks about Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest. She is also the author of new editions of “Backpacking Oregon,” “Best Tent Camping: Oregon,” and “One Night Wilderness: Portland,” all published by AdventureKEEN.

Douglas Lorain moved with his family to the Pacific Northwest in 1969, and he has been obsessively hitting the trails of his home region ever since. Spurred by an unquenchable thirst for new trails to explore and a great enthusiasm for backpacking, he has now hiked more than 30,000 miles through every corner of the American Northwest and many thousands more in other western states and Canadian provinces. Despite a history that includes being bitten by a rattlesnake, being shot at by a hunter, being charged by grizzly bears (twice!), and donating gallons of blood to mosquitoes, Lorain claims that he wouldn’t trade one moment of it because he has also been blessed to see some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. His books for Wilderness Press include “Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver,” “Backpacking Idaho,” “Backpacking Oregon,” “Backpacking Washington,” “Backpacking Wyoming,” “One Best Hike: Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Trail,” “One Night Wilderness: Portland,” and “Top Trails: Olympic National Park & Vicinity.” Lorain is a photographer and recipient of the National Outdoor Book Award. His photographs have appeared in numerous magazines, calendars, and books.

Read an Excerpt

Silver Star Mountain

  • Ratings: Scenery 8, Difficulty 7, Solitude 6
  • Round-Trip Distance: 12.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,600 feet
  • Optional Maps: Green Trails Bridal Veil (No. 428) and Lookout Mountain
  • Usually Open: Mid-May to mid-November
  • Best Times: Mid-June to Mid-July; October
  • Agency: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, 360-449-7800,
  • Permit: None


As seen from Portland, Silver Star Mountain is that long, brownish ridge to the northeast that frustratingly blocks the view of Mt. Adams. But once you’re standing on this ridge, nothing obstructs the views, and you can see not only Mt. Adams but pretty much everything else for 50 miles in any direction. And it’s not just the views that make a visit here worthwhile. In 1902, the massive Yacolt Burn swept over this peak, killing nearly all the trees. The forests never grew back, so despite its relatively low elevation, the peak has an open, almost alpine appearance, with plenty of sunshine to nourish thousands of acres of wildflowers in June and July. Those same alpine-like meadows turn a burnished red-gold in the fall, which also means cooler temperatures and no bugs. Most hikers who visit this area make it a dayhike. But a campsite near a little-known spring just southwest of the summit allows backpackers to spend the night, watch a terrific sunset, and even see the lights of Portland twinkling far below.

Several routes lead to the summit, and every one of them is outstanding, but most require a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to access. The main Silver Star trailhead has become impossible to reach without 4WD, so we’re recommending the longer and even more scenic trail that starts from the Bluff Mountain trailhead to the east (still not a great road, but manageable if you drive carefully).

Getting There

From the intersection of State Highways 502 and 503 in downtown Battleground, Washington, drive 5.7 miles north on Highway 503 to a junction. Turn right on N.E. Rock Creek Road, which soon becomes Lucia Falls Road, and proceed 8.6 miles to a junction. Turn right on Sunset Falls Road and drive 7.4 miles to a junction at the entrance to Sunset Campground. Turn right and cross the East Fork Lewis River on gravel Forest Road 41. Stay on often potholed and bumpy FS 41 for approximately 9 miles to a large parking area just as the road makes a hairpin turn.

GPS Coordinates: N45° 46.85626', W122° 09.96598'

Hiking It

The Bluff Mountain Trail starts as an old jeep road, long since closed to motor vehicles, that undulates along a scenic, mostly open ridgetop. The route provides extensive views and is carpeted with a delightful mix of small Pacific silver fir trees, huckleberry and serviceberry bushes, beargrass, and a wide array of wildflowers. There are dozens of varieties, but the most common kinds are lupine, wild carrot, paintbrush, iris, yarrow, valerian, tiger lily, and golden pea.

After 2 up-and-down miles, you descend to a small saddle where the road ends and the trail veers to the right. From here the path loses more elevation in one long switchback to another, more prominent saddle, and then cuts across the north side of Bluff Mountain, where in early summer you may encounter lingering snow patches and small runoff creeks. After completing the traverse, the trail climbs to and crosses another saddle, this one in dense timber, and then traverses the open, view-packed talus slopes on the south and west sides of pyramid-shaped Little Baldy. Here you’ll have great views of the impressive crags of Silver Star Mountain to the west. Still traveling toward that goal, the well-graded trail uses two short switchbacks to work its way gradually up an open ridge with lots of beargrass.

Five miles along the trail you’ll reach a signed junction with the rarely used Starway Trail heading off to your right; continue straight (west) at the junction, then climb through the forest on the north side of Silver Star Mountain, where snowdrifts usually remain into late June. The trail ends at a multiway intersection, where you encounter a closed jeep road and Ed’s Trail. (If you have lots of excess energy, or feel like taking a day hike the next morning, you can make a skinny loop of Ed’s Trail heading north toward the Silver Star trailhead, then returning to the summit on the nearly parallel Silver Star trail.)

Turn left (south) on the jeep route and climb for 200 yards to a road junction. To reach the summit, bear left and ascend a rock-strewn old road for about 0.2 mile to the high saddle between the twin summits of Silver Star Mountain. The north summit is slightly higher and has better views. On very clear days you can see not only the nearby volcanic peaks already mentioned but also south to Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters in Oregon, and northwest to Washington’s Olympic Mountains.

To reach the small campsite, return to the junction 0.2 mile below the summit and go south (downhill) along a jeep track for 0.2 mile to a junction. Turn right, walk 50 yards, then turn right again onto an unsigned but obvious trail. This path goes 80 yards to a small but reliable piped spring with a fine campsite nearby.

Table of Contents



Summary of Featured Trips


  • Tips on Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest
  • Safety
  • Advice for the First-Time Backpacker
  • Reintroducing Yourself to Backpacking
  • Introducing Your Kids to Backpacking
  • How to Use This Guide

Southeastern Olympic Mountains

  • Duckabush River Trail
  • Lake of the Angels
  • Lena Lakes

Southern Mount Rainier and the Goat Rocks

  • Goat Lake and Gobblers Knob
  • Indian Henrys Hunting Ground and Pyramid Park
  • Indian Bar and Cowlitz Park
  • Dumbbell and Sand Lakes Loop
  • Cispus Point
  • Packwood Lake and Coyote Ridge Loop
  • Heart Lake
  • Snowgrass Flat Loop

Mount Saint Helens and Vicinity

  • Dome Camp
  • Goat Mountain and Green River Loop
  • Mount Margaret Backcountry Lakes
  • Lewis River Trail
  • Quartz Creek
  • Siouxon Creek

Mount Adams and Indian Heaven

  • Dark Meadow via Jumbo Peak
  • Foggy Flat and Avalanche Valley
  • High Camp and Killen Creek
  • Horseshoe Meadow and Crystal Lake
  • Sunrise Camp
  • Lemei and Blue Lakes Loop
  • Lake Wapiki

Oregon Coast and Coast Range

  • Tillamook Head
  • Soapstone Lake

Columbia River Gorge

  • Silver Star Mountain
  • Soda Peaks Lake
  • Herman Creek Trail
  • North, Bear, and Warren Lakes
  • Lower Deschutes River Canyon

Mount Hood and Vicinity

  • Cairn Basin and Elk Cove
  • Ramona Falls and Yocum Ridge
  • Burnt Lake
  • Cast Lake and Zigzag Mountain Loop
  • Paradise Park
  • Elk Meadows Loop
  • Salmon River Trail
  • Veda Lake
  • Twin Lakes Loop
  • Boulder Lake
  • Lookout Mountain and Oval Lake
  • Badger Creek

Clackamas River Country

  • High Lake
  • Shining Lake
  • Shellrock and Serene Lakes Loop
  • Pechuck Lookout
  • Pansy and Twin Lakes
  • Big Slide Lake
  • Olallie Lake Scenic Area Loop

Mount Jefferson and Vicinity

  • Firecamp Lakes
  • Jefferson Park
  • Pamelia and Shale Lakes Loop
  • Carl Lake Loop
  • Duffy and Santiam Lakes
  • Three Fingered Jack Loop
  • Washington Ponds and George Lake
  • Cache Creek

Appendix A: More Short Backpacking Options

Appendix B: Recommended Reading

Appendix C: Conservation Organizations and Outdoor Clubs

Appendix D: Land Agencies and Information Sources


About the Authors

Customer Reviews