Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
User avatar
Posts: 2557
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by bobcat » October 16th, 2012, 6:22 am

I got a very late start on Sunday and, thinking that a soaking was imminent, decided on a low-elevation hike on the Washington side of the river. As I was driving out, however, Mt. Hood, with only a high mantle of clouds, was clearly visible and I opted for an excursion on its lowest slopes.

The Pioneer Bridle Trail heads up north of Rhododendron, crosses Highway 26, and then switchbacks up the slopes of Laurel Hill to Government Camp. Hiking up here, one is granted the experience of treading on, or near, a succession of five passageways representative of the history of ground transportation in the state: the Barlow Road, part of the Oregon Trail (completed in 1846); one of the Territorial Stage Roads (1866), the first two-way road over the mountain; the Mt. Hood Loop Highway (1925); the Pioneer Bridle Trail (constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s on or near the track of the first two); and federal Highway 26 (1959), which provides the hiker with background noise for most of the walk.

I parked at the trailhead just east of the Kiwanis Camp Road, the route of the old Mt. Hood Loop Highway. The Pioneer Bridle Trail is no longer used much by horses, or hikers for that matter, but it is a popular mountain bike route (No bikers on Sunday, however). The trail switchbacks up, generally following the Stage Road, but sometimes cutting across it. This area has some manzanita slopes and trees are all of a uniform age, having grown up since the 1952 Zigzag Burn. At a level area, orange paint dots and flagging heading off into the woods denote the track of the Oregon Trail. There is no boot path here, but you can follow these markers up and over a hillock (When Barlow built his road, he mainly just cut down trees; to avoid making cuttings or fills, the wagon road goes over the top of hills and along ridges rather than along their sides - the wagons tipped too easily). There is an Oregon Trail marker in the woods here and the wagon track is visible most of the way.
Manzanita limbs, Laurel Hill.jpg
Wagon route, Laurel Hill.jpg
I rejoined the Bridle Trail and headed up the stagecoach road bed where it is cut into a scree slope flaming with vine maple. Where the Barlow Road leaves the Stage Road/Bridle Trail, its track is marked in the woods by new flagging. Soon, I passed an old mineshaft and then reached the horse tunnel under an abandoned section of the Mt. Hood Loop Highway.
Territorial Stage Road, Laurel Hill.jpg
Mineshaft, Pioneer Bridle Trail, Laurel Hill.jpg
CCC wall, Pioneer Bridle Trail, Laurel Hill.jpg
Horse tunnel under Mt. Hood Highway, Pioneer Bridle Trail.jpg
Here I took a diversion to walk down the highway to visit Little Zigzag Falls. The trailhead here is in a quarry used to construct the old highway. I scrambled up to the top of the falls and crossed Little Zigzag Creek on a mossy log to find a faint trace of a path up the slope and then along a ridge line to rejoin the Bridle Trail close to Highway 26’s roar of traffic. It had rained earlier in the morning, and this little bushwhack through the huckleberries and rhododendrons managed to get me thoroughly soaked (“laurel” = an old-timey synonym for rhododendron).
Little Zigzag Creek under the old highway, Laurel Hill.jpg
Small cascade, Little Zigzag Creek.jpg
Devil's club, Little Zigzag Creek.jpg
Little Zigzag Falls, Little Zigzag Creek.jpg
The Bridle Trail heads into woods of larger trees, crosses skunk-cabbage creeks, and meets the Enid Lake Ski Trail. I looped left and ate lunch at little Enid Lake, which I usually see in the winter under five feet of snow while on kids' ski trips. No view of Mt. Hood from the lake, however, as the clouds were closing in.
Big trees, Enid Lake Loop.jpg
Enid Lake, Laurel Hill.jpg
Then I picked up the Bridle Trail again to descend past another track of the Barlow Road. Below the horse tunnel, I scrambled up to Highway 26, sprinted to the other side, and picked up the Laurel Hill Chute Trail. The chute here is known as #3, one of five known chutes in the area where the pioneers’ prairie schooners were eased down steep, rocky slopes by rope or by using trees as a drag. This particular chute became eroded, unstable, and unusable rather quickly, so had a life of only about three years in the 1850s. Traces of the wagon trail and also a section of the Mt. Hood Loop Highway can be seen in this area as well. From the Chute Trailhead, I walked down the highway about 200 yards and reentered the woods at the end of the crash barrier and another section of the Barlow Road.
Looking down the chute, Laurel Hill Chute.jpg
Rope descent, Laurel Hill Chute.jpg
Trail junction with Mt. Hood Highway, Laurel Hill Chute.jpg
About 10 miles out and back, with diversions.

User avatar
Posts: 3579
Joined: December 22nd, 2009, 7:46 pm

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by mayhem » October 16th, 2012, 8:37 am

Wow!! that is a very interesting hike to say the least.

Thanks for sharing.
Shoe Shine Boy Has Left The Building!

User avatar
Posts: 3333
Joined: May 10th, 2009, 4:42 pm
Location: The Foothills of Mt Hood

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by Guy » October 16th, 2012, 11:15 am

Great report Bobcat,

This area has been on my todo list for such a long time, maybe your photos will be what spurs me to get it done! I'm thinking of a hike up the trail to the Ace Axe Pub for a pint of IPA then a return on the old road :) ..

It sounds like a bit of a maze of old roads & trails in there so I put this Hillmap together that overlays the roads & trails. thought others might find it helpful too when reading your report.

hiking log & photos.
Ad monte summa aut mors

User avatar
Posts: 55
Joined: June 28th, 2011, 3:06 pm

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by Like2hikeLeea » October 16th, 2012, 11:59 am

Nice Report Bobcat!
Love the history...Ive known some..thanks for putting it together.
The civilized man has built a couch, but has lost the use of his feet. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

User avatar
Posts: 6410
Joined: June 21st, 2012, 9:55 am
Location: Salmon Creek

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by kepPNW » October 17th, 2012, 5:26 am

Fascinating! I'm not sure how anyone would come to know of places like this, were it not for this forum. And I marvel at the history you somehow uncovered to share here! Very much appreciated.
Back on the trail, again...

User avatar
Posts: 2557
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by bobcat » October 17th, 2012, 6:51 am

@all: Thanks for the comments. I confirmed a lot of the dates, etc., from this pamphlet by Jim Tompkins.

I've walked the Barlow Road (more or less) from Rhododendron to Trillium Lake before. Past the summit area, as justpeachy notes in her post, some of it is used for ski trails.

@Guy: The Ace Axe Pub! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks also for the map. Here's a sketch of the routes I took:

User avatar
Posts: 3400
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: Lake Oswego

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by Peder » October 17th, 2012, 7:14 am

Bobcat - Great report and thank you for the map. That is something to explore on a grey day. The idea of the pub stop reminds me of countryside hikes in England and Wales!
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

User avatar
Posts: 475
Joined: February 8th, 2012, 7:40 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by mileagemike25000 » October 21st, 2012, 5:26 pm

Bobcat - excellent report! I just went to Enid Lake today and it was quite a different experience as there was snow everywhere! I'll be posting a report soon.


User avatar
Sean Thomas
Posts: 1647
Joined: February 25th, 2012, 11:33 pm

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by Sean Thomas » October 25th, 2012, 5:27 pm

Top notch report, BC. Thanks a million for posting the link to the Laurel/Barlow pamphlet, that was a great read.

User avatar
Posts: 1265
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Enid Lake via Laurel Hill

Post by Chase » October 25th, 2012, 7:01 pm

Love the pamphlet. Had never seen it before, so thanks for posting the link.

I had read both on Wikipedia and another source (a book, but I can't recall the title) that there was blasting on Laurel Hill in 1861, making it less steep. I visited the hill (chute 3) in September and made this video:

Now I'm concerned after reading the pamphlet and just thinking about it all that this blasting may have been insignificant, if it happened at all. So, my video may be slightly misleading.

Video of the Prairie and cemetery:

Post Reply