Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Barlow Wayside Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Western red-cedar on the Connector Trail, Barlow Wayside County Park (bobcat)
Little Joe Creek, Barlow Wayside County Park (bobcat)
Salmonberries, Barlow Wayside County Park (bobcat)
Hairy woodpecker (juvenile male), Barlow Wayside County Park (bobcat)
Trails at Barlow Wayside County Park (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Barlow Wayside TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Northern Loop Footbridge
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 185 feet
  • High Point: 1,165 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



This shady county park along Little Joe Creek and the Barlow Trail has interpretive signs that introduce the hiker to some of the human and natural history of the area. There’s a planned connection with the much larger Sandy Ridge Trail system, which was built specifically for mountain bikers. You can do the Barlow Wayside trails in combination with a longer hike in the Mt. Hood area, or hike it along with other short excursions, such as the Castle Canyon Hike or Cascade Streamwatch Loop Hike. The park hosts an annual Mountain Boomer Day each February 2nd on which a resident boomer (mountain beaver) is cajoled into showing its shadow (or not).

The mileage given for the hike includes the in and out Connector Trail, so if you want to do this one, start from the information kiosk near the restrooms. Head into a shady bottomland with Little Joe Creek flowing to your left and Barlow Trail Road to the right. Hike under a canopy of western red-cedar, western hemlock, and Douglas-fir in a carpet of sword fern and oxalis. Towards the creek, there’s a deciduous fringe of cottonwood, red alder, and big-leaf maple. Eventually, the trail splits: going right takes you out to the road near the Sandy Ridge Trailhead for mountain bikers; going left is a user trail that peters out rather rapidly.

Turn around and head back to the parking area. Take the main gravel trail leading towards the creek and then the Little Joe Loop going left. This short trail leads to a viewing platform on the creek with a “Redd Alert” sign warning visitors and their dogs not to disturb the creek bed. Back at a junction with the main trail, go left on the self-guided nature trail. Pass an interpretive panel about the life cycle of salmon and then cross a footbridge over Little Joe Creek. There’s a pamphlet dispenser after the bridge where you can pick up a guide to the numbered stops on the trails. Walk under a canopy of cedars and then turn to ascend a set up steps to ascend a bluff. Stop #2 at the top of the bluff explains that the benches here are terraces in the thick layers of pyroclastic debris that flowed down the Sandy River valley during the last eruption of Mount Hood in 1781-82.

At a junction here, go left along the Falls Trail. At a large Douglas-fir, a short spur leads right to the first of two “waterfalls,” really a tumbling cascade that runs more like a trickle in the summer. Continuing on, ignore a trail to the left and pass through a salmonberry thicket. Another spur right leads to the second little cascade. The trail curves to the right near a yellow gate and crosses a footbridge over a small creek. The path here uses flagstones and a boardwalk to cross a sedge wetland. Pass a large cedar and head up the bluff to another bench. Go right at the junction with the Neighborhood Trail. There’s a cottonwood and a cedar here at a viewpoint that overlooks the wetland. Take a set of steps up to a third terrace. Hike under bowers of vine maple and then through a carpet of candy flower. You’ll cross a creek above one of the small waterfalls and then reach a junction with the Northern Loop.

Make a left here and descend to cross the Northern Loop Footbridge over a skunk-cabbage creek. Pass between two conifers and then stride through a lovely green, oxalis-carpeted woodland. The trail rises towards a powerline corridor and then drops through a lush area of seeps to join the Falls Trail again. Here, go left, cross a creek on a footbridge, and turn right at a private property sign. Walk along an old road bed and drop down to the second terrace. At the next junction, go left to descend to Little Joe Creek and return to the parking area.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Restrooms, information kiosk with brochures, interpretive trail
  • Dogs on leash


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

More Links

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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.