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Barrett Spur Add-on Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mount Hood from the Barrett Spur Viewpoint. (Steve Hart)
Looking up Barrett Spur from the Dollar Lake Trail. (Jerry Adams)
Squinting down at the Hood River Valley through a dead white bark pine. (Steve Hart)
From the 7300' high point just below Barrett Spur you get great views to the North, including Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. (Jerry Adams)
Paintbrush line the lower section of the Barrett Spur Trail in Wy'East Basin. (Steve Hart)

Contents

Hike Description

Barrett Spur is the imposing mass that you can see from Portland off the left (north) side of Mount Hood. From the spur, you get great views to the north and west, as well as great views of Mount Hood and the Coe and Ladd Glaciers.

There are a couple primitive trails and at least one off-trail route to get to Barrett Spur. Make sure and look back occasionally so you know how to get back. It would be easy to walk straight up, and then go back down on the wrong route and end up going over a steep cliff. Walk on a trail, gravel, rocks, or snow. Avoid walking on plants which grow very slowly at that altitude.

This hike describes a loop taking in two of the most common use paths to Barrett Spur. Start on an obvious path leading across the meadow at Wy'East Basin. This path, which we'll call the Barrett Spur Trail, soon crosses an older version of the Timberline Trail, then begins climbing the east side of the ridge that separates Wy'East Basin from Cairn Basin to the west. The trail nears the top of the ridge then slabs upward towards the south, always just a bit down from the crest of the ridge. It might seem like this cheats you out of some mountain views, but the good side is that it keeps you out of the wind, which gets nasty up here.

The trail climbs above a couple of permanent snowfields into a forest of White Bark Pine. These trees are slow growing and long-lived. Many of these gnarled, crooked survivors are 300 years old. Mixed in are dead trees bleached white by winter storms and summer sun. Near the top of this forest, the Barrett Spur Trail connects with a trail down to Dollar Lake, marked by a small cairn. This junction can be difficult to spot, but it really doesn't matter. The terrain is open enough here that it's possible to walk almost anywhere with care.

Continuing up, the trail fades in some places and braids in others. Keep generally to the east (left) side of the ridge crest and watch for cairns. As long as you step around the few fragile plants, you really can't go wrong. Now that you're on the summit, the wind often howls. At 7300', there's a saddle between the generally flat area you've been on and the crumbling mass that makes up the true summit of Barrett Spur. This area, typically sheltered from the wind is what we call the Barrett Spur Viewpoint and it's the recommended end of the hike. From here, you'll have great views of the Coe and Ladd glaciers.

For the riskier and better equipped hikers, the last pitch is up a spine that requires using your hands and has steep cliffs on both sides. Then you'll follow along a somewhat level spine with steep drop-offs on both sides to the Barret Spur high point. The further up you go, the more dangerous it is so be very careful. The further up you go, the better you can see the ice fall on Coe Glacier to your left.

To return, head down the Barrett Spur Trail to that junction with the Dollar Lake Trail you passed earlier, the head down the Dollar Lake Trail. The trail is hard to spot at times, but it doesn't matter. Just head down the eastern edge ridge overlooking Elk Cove until the trail becomes obvious. Follow the trail down to Dollar Lake, where there's a nice campsite and (of course) a view of the mountain. The trail continues down a wash just east of Dollar Lake to the junction with the Timberline Trail.


Warning! This should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Could be dangerous. There's another route to Barrett Spur farther west. This is an off-trail approach going up from the McNeil Point Saddle. Take the primitive trail down (east) from the saddle and immediately cross the outlet stream from the Glisan Glacier. Then traverse at the same elevation over to the crossing of the next major stream (outlet of Ladd Glacier). These two streams are impassable in the spring and after heavy rains. It can be possible to cross them in the morning but in the afternoon, increased melt from snow can make them impassable. Rather than attempting a dangerous crossing on the way back, you could find a way straight down to the Timberline Trail (mentioned in Lowe's book). These two streams are the streams before and after Cairn Basin on the Timberline Trail. If you end up between the two streams and you can't cross the second stream, you can go straight up to a ridge almost as high as Barrett Spur (Gladd Ridge). From the second stream crossing, go straight up, to successive high points until you reach the high point at 7300'. Avoid the cliff on the way down to the northwest. You could spend years in this area exploring different routes.

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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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