Barlow Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by rollingsouth, Jul 27, 2020.

  1. rollingsouth

    rollingsouth Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    20
    We are getting into the real heat of Summer here in Portland, so I decided to escape to the mountain for a day ride on the historic Barlow Trail. Originally it was a toll road that allowed settlers to bypass the rapids of the lower Columbia River in the last stretch of the Oregon Trail. A stretch of the original rutted two-track is still present from Tygh Valley to Government Camp, but the rest of the trail has been paved over with modern roads.

    https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/barlow_road/#.Xx8ewfhKiqQ

    I thought it would be fun to trace as much of the original path as possible, using an old map I dug up. Here's the original...
    largeBarlowmap2.jpg

    And here's my final route

    Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 10.30.41 AM.png
    Starting at the wagon-shaped Oregon Trail Center (dysentery not included)
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    Clackamas River Drive takes you along the... Clackamas River.
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    First sign of the Barlow trail! This is along the S Springwater Rd, just outside of Estacada.
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    After motoring through Sandy and on to Marmot Road, I catch my first good view of the mountain. Still plenty of pavement, but great views and some windy switchbacks make for a good dual sport day.
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    Took a little detour down Still Creek Road in Rhododendron in an effort to bypass a big section of Highway 26, but there was a gate seven miles in. Still, not a bad little ride.
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    Finally to the trailhead! This has been on my list for years, excited to get started.
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    First few miles is smooth, with some occasional rocks and ruts that require a little navigating. The DR350 eats roads like this for breakfast, but I'll bet was hell in a covered wagon. I passed a few trucks, some lost hikers, and two other folks on dual-sports but overall Barlow Road is not a busy place. IMG_9764.jpg IMG_9765.jpg
    #1
  2. rollingsouth

    rollingsouth Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    20
    There were several nice bridges where I stopped to enjoy the cool air. Even at this altitude, the heat is strong in the middle of the day. The USFS website lists the road as closed at the intersection at NF Road 4300 because of a bridge, but navigating around it is not terribly tricky.

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    There's a few intersections that are well-marked. I used GPX tracks as a backup from https://www.trailsoffroad.com/trails/2855-barlow-trail
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    Within a couple of hours of slowly descending into the foothills, the soil and forest abruptly changed. Out of the dark brown and heavy moss of Mt Hood, and into the yellow loam and dry pine of Central Oregon.
    IMG_9771.jpg IMG_9775.jpg
    My only spill of the day happened while trying to turn around - whoops! Lost part of my clutch lever, but there's still plenty left to get home. At the end of the trail, a little zigzagging on forest roads get you back onto pavement - NF48 to Wamic.
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    Following the entirety of the Barlow Trail would've taken me up to The Dalles - the jumping-off point for settlers floating down the Columbia that was then known as Wascopam Mission. Sadly, daylight was dwindling and it was time to turn West towards home.
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    View of the East face of Mt Hood, along Dufur Valley Road.
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    And a goodbye to Mt Hood, my constant companion and chief source of direction-finding for the day.
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    Thanks for reading!

    Attached Files:

    #2
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  3. HwdCoyote

    HwdCoyote n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Bend, OR
    What did you do for the workaround at the bridge closure? I came up from the south last year and just turned around. This summer I went around up Bonnie Meadows instead.

    Did you hit Still Creek Road too?
    #3
  4. rollingsouth

    rollingsouth Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2014
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    I don't want to run afoul of the forest service, but I have been told there is a water crossing, and also that the bridge is not really gated.

    Still creek road was great! I ran into a gate about 7 miles from 26. Forest service says it's closed until September.

    Bonnie Meadows looks awesome! I will have to work in a stop there on my next ride.
    #4
  5. HwdCoyote

    HwdCoyote n00b

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Bend, OR
    Nice workaround on the bridge. It was not passable last time I was up that way. Still Creek, however, was passable. I called the Forest Service office and asked if it was open and the person I spoke to said it was. The crew wasn't working when we arrived and we were able to get through.
    #5
  6. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9
    Thanks for your report! We are heading up that way this weekend. I wasn't sure is all of Barlow Road is open.
    #6
  7. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    7,226
    Location:
    Mt. Vernon, Illinois
    Nice little ride you had !!!!!
    The DR350-------in my opinion this is the bike that started dualsport riding.
    I had 3 of those things---------bullet proof bikes.
    And as you have proved---not a bad bike even in today's standard.
    BD
    #7
  8. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Beautiful countryside.
    #8