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Barlow ridge loop hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Lost Hike. The "trail" may be dangerous and hard to follow and is not recommended for beginning hikers without an experienced leader. Beginning hikers should check out our Basic Hiking Information page.
Mt. Hood and White River from Barlow Butte (bobcat)
Deer on Barlow Butte (bobcat)
Cascade stonecrop (Sedum divergens), Barlow Butte (bobcat)
Tree swallows sign, Barlow Ridge (bobcat)
View east from Barlow Ridge (bobcat)
Original wagon route, Barlow Road (bobcat)
The loop using the Barlow Butte Trail #670 and the Barlow Road (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Barlow Pass TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Klingers Camp
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2845 feet
  • High Point: 5,175 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

The Barlow Butte Trail #670 is shown on most maps as a through trail from the northern base of the ridge near Barlow Pass to its southern base at Klingers Camp. The area it travels through was added to the Mt. Hood Wilderness as part of the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act. The trail may be regularly maintained to the lookout site, reasonably well-traveled as far as Barlow Pyramid, but beyond that nature is taking its course and the path becomes a worthy exercise for abandoned trail aficionados. Even if you lose the trail, it’s easy enough to continue down the steep slope and reach the Barlow Road, which you can follow up, past numerous official Oregon Trail markers, to the Barlow Pass Trailhead.

Because the trail down Barlow Ridge has been abandoned and is very, very sketchy in places, give yourself time to do this loop and start early!

Head across the parking area to the trail junction at the picnic table (with garbage can) and fading ski trail map. Go straight downhill from here on an original track of the old wagon trail. Reach the rough and narrow vehicle road (FR 3530) and descend 40 yards to where the Barlow Butte Trail #670/Mineral Jane Ski Trail branch off to the left. The trail follows the wagon road down into deep old-growth forest of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, silver fir, and Engelmann spruce. Look for some impressive Douglas-firs here.

Reach the Barlow Butte-Devils Half Acre Trail Junction, and go left. It should be noted that this little meadow was the site of an excavation in 1976 during which a number of Oregon Trail artifacts were found. Based on this, some think the meadow was the site of Fort Deposit, mentioned in trail diaries, where a rough cabin once stood and where late-arriving emigrants, wanting to travel light over the passes, left possessions and wagons for a late spring retrieval.

Cross a footbridge and traverse up through a bear-grass carpet to a saddle and the Barlow Butte-Mineral Jane Ski Trail Junction. Go right here, ascending a slope with an old clearcut visible through the trees to the left. Pass a wilderness sign in old growth Douglas-fir, silver fir, and noble fir forest. Keep rising more steeply, making about nine or ten switchbacks and then traversing to a small meadow in the mountain hemlock zone with a trail junction. The Barlow Butte Trail #670 continues down the slope to the right, but first stay left for the short ascent to the summit and then the site of the old lookout.

The rocky meadow affords views over the White River valley and to Bonney Butte. Head into shady woods and emerge at the rocky summit of Barlow Butte. Trees have grown up, so there is no good view from here. Larkspur, yellow western groundsel, rock penstemon, and saxifrage all bloom here in the summer. For the best view of Mount Hood, walk back down the trail a few yards to where it bends. A use trail leads off to the left to the old lookout site. The guy pins are about all that remain, and there are no views from this site either. Walk around the left side of the lookout clearing, which is hemmed in by huckleberries and head into the woods. There’s a rocky prominence which gives a partial view of Mount Hood. From this spot, one can see below another rocky outcrop which is easily reached in a short scramble down through the woods. From here, there is an excellent, clear view of the mountain and the upper White River valley.

Return to the 670 Trail junction, and go left to continue down the ridge on the Barlow Butte Trail. Reach a rocky, open crest with views down the Barlow Creek and White River valleys and back to Mount Hood. Mount Jefferson stands out on the southern horizon. Creamy stonecrop, common juniper, and pinemat manzanita carpet this stony spine, which is rimmed by noble firs and a few scraggly ponderosa pines. Reach a forested saddle and note an old trail sign being “eaten” by a conifer. Hike up and find yourself at the base of Lambert Rock. This is a quick, careful scramble up to get views of Mount Hood and then south past the Barlow Pyramid to the Three Sisters on a good day. The ridge to the west harbors Twin Lakes and Palmateer Point, while across the White River you can see from Bonney Butte to Lookout Mountain. Note the plaque in memory of young Dr. Richard Lambert, who died while hiking in Utah two weeks after he received his medical degree.

Drop briefly to a saddle and then rise to pass the Barlow Butte-Barlow Ridge Cutoff Trail Junction (The unofficial Cutoff Trail runs southeast down the side of the ridge to cross two large meadows, often frequented by elk, and reach a spur road off of FR 3560). The Barlow Butte Trail rises to the ridge crest. From here, it’s a short bushwhack, pushing through some low-hanging branches to the scramble up Barlow Pyramid. The views here are similar to those from Lambert Rock but a little more expansive as the pyramid is higher. South of the Pyramid, the steep meadows on the ridge’s western slope are bright green in the summer, golden in the fall.

Continue along the trail, which now becomes less distinct. There are double blazes, red paint markers, and white plastic diamonds on trees to help you. Pass through a lupine meadow (Small cairns in the meadows will point you in the right direction). Keep left in a second small meadow and reach an opening on the ridge crest with a view back to Mount Hood and across to the Lookout Mountain-Gunsight Butte-Badger Butte ridge. Reach the highest point on the ridge at 5,175 feet to get views north and east. The trail drops off this summit area to the right between two small cairns.

Hike above a bracken meadow and follow the ridge crest below a rocky outcrop ringed by noble firs. Keep straight to pass through a small meadow and reach another rocky viewpoint with views east. Hike down below this rockpile, swing up to the left below another outcropping and traverse just below the crest on its east side. Pass through a couple small phlox meadows and skirt another rocky outcrop before heading down to the right following the ridge line. Follow the blazes and diamonds on trees as the trail swings off the ridge to the right and enters a serene and remote old growth forest of Douglas-fir, noble fir, and silver fir. You’ll pass across the top of a shallow draw and hike along a level bench. There’s more blowdown to negotiate in this section.

Arrive at a rocky, mossy opening, and then drop steeply off the nose of this bench. Keep following the diamonds down the east side of a rock outcropping and then wind down through a Sitka alder opening. It’s easy to lose the trail alignment at this point, but keep heading almost straight down, more or less on the nose of the ridge, picking up any trail remnants that you can as you attempt to follow a series of switchbacks. The slope will become shallower and level out just as you reach Klingers Camp on the Barlow Road (If you can't find the trail at this point, you are still sure to hit the Barlow Road, where you can go right to continue the hike).

It should be noted that Klingers Camp has no documented connection with the Oregon Trail. The association might have begun with a large interpretive sign put up there (the post remains), perhaps by the CCC, in the 1930s. The sign said:

"Historic Oregon/ Mount Hood National Forest/ Klinger’s Camp/ At this place a camp known as a/ 'Hay Burner's Station’ was maintained in/ pioneer days by Louis Klinger, a trapper/ and hunter and his wife Malissa, where/ hay and other supplies were sold to/ emigrants a portion of the original/ fireplace still remains"

Actually, nothing remains of the fireplace. Also, Louis Klinger homesteaded at Eightmile Creek, not here. This place was the site of a trapper’s cabin constructed by one Joe Douglas, and the Klingers probably passed through here from time to time. The CCC sign seems to have disappeared or been taken down some time in the 1990s.

Go right on the rutted and narrow FR 3530, which in most places on the loop back covers the tracks of the Oregon Trail wagon route. You will hike along through a mossy bottomland of tall old-growth western hemlock and Douglas-fir. From time to time, note the posts marking this as the alignment of the Oregon Trail – the entire Barlow Road was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The road rises around the base of Barlow Ridge and passes the primitive Grindstone Campground. Barlow Creek can be heard running down to the left, but remains unseen. Little groves of Sitka alder and vine maple, colorful in the fall, overhang the track. Rise up a steeper grade and then drop to cross Barlow Creek on a wooden bridge. Soon, recross the creek on another road bridge. Here, you can see the expanse of the wetlands below Devils Half Acre Meadow.

Pass the entrance to the campground here and then view the expanse of the meadows, mostly on your left and much larger than the "half acre" of yore. Opposite the campground road, on your left, is the site of the old Barlow Guard Station. The Devils Half Acre Trail heads up towards Palmateer Point from the north side of the meadow, which like Klingers Camp, also has an apocryphal association with the Oregon Trail. It didn’t exist when Barlow built his road and the first emigrants came through. In fact, the pioneers bewailed the lack of grazing for their stock until they reached Summit Meadows, near Trillium Lake. Over the years, however, emigrants set fires to burn brush and downed trees. Some of these went out of control, and by the 1880s, the area had become a swath of blackened snags in a meadow created by the pioneers.

The road steepens on a long mile back to the Barlow Pass Trailhead. Some rather deep water bars make travel by passenger cars difficult on this section, and there is little vehicle traffic overall as you ascend in shady forest.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass required
  • Port-a-potty and picnic table at the trailhead
  • Barlow Butte Trail #670 unmaintained past Barlow Butte and progressively difficult to follow as you proceed south along the ridge

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Barlow Butte Trail #670 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Hood, OR #462 and Mt. Wilson, OR #494
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area

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Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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