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Barlow Butte Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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View of Mt. Hood from viewpoint south of Barlow Butte (Cheryl Hill)
Wilderness sign on the Barlow Butte Trail (bobcat)
Rock penstemon (Penstemon rupicola), Barlow Butte (bobcat)
View of Mt. Jefferson from viewpoint south of Barlow Butte (Cheryl Hill)
The hike to Barlow Butte and the Barlow Ridge viewpoints (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Barlow Pass TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Barlow Butte
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 4.0 miles
  • High point: 5,069 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1585 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: June-October
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The Barlow Butte Trail #670 climbs up to the summit of Barlow Butte in a recently added (2009) section of the Mt. Hood Wilderness. There are very limited views from the summit itself, which displays colorful wildflowers in the summer, but the old lookout site below the summit (see the directions below) offers a great vista to Mount Hood. A short detour south along Barlow Ridge will give you more expansive views south to Mount Jefferson and north to Mount Hood. For a more extensive hike on the hard-to-follow, abandoned section of the Barlow Butte Trail, see the Barlow Ridge Loop Hike.

From the trailhead walk south past a big old ski trail signboard. The path is wide here because this is the route of the old Barlow Road (Road 3530, the vehicle road a little bit to your left, deviated slightly from the Barlow Road when it was built). The trail soon connects with that road. 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. Also look for some impressive Douglas-firs here.

You'll reach the Barlow Butte-Devils Half Acre Trail Junction where latter trail, formerly the Barlow Creek Trail, goes straight. You'll turn left and walk through a small meadow before re-entering the trees. 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.

The trail crosses a sturdy footbridge over Barlow Creek, which dries up to a trickle in the summer. The trail starts to gradually climb in a bear-grass carpet and then reaches 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, 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 main trail goes to the right along Barlow Ridge, where there's an excellent viewpoint, but to get to the summit of Barlow Butte, keep left.

The trail immediately reaches a ridge with views east over the White River valley to Bonney Butte. The path then makes a sharp turn to left to climb up to the rocky summit. Sedum bloom here in summertime, but the tall trees prevent any views at all. For the best view of Mount Hood, head back down the trail a few yards to where it bends. A use trail leads off to the left to the old lookout site. A 20-foot lookout tower existed here in the 1930s and 1940s. 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.

For more views, return to the junction at a small cairn where the Barlow Butte Trail turns south along Barlow Ridge. The trail loses elevation and then breaks out of the trees into a big rocky area. There are nice views to the south here and on a clear day you can see Mount Jefferson. At the far end of the rocky area you can see the top of Mount Hood, but for better views of that mountain you'll need to keep hiking. The trail keeps descending and re-enters the trees for awhile. Soon the tread breaks out of the trees into a small open area with a large rock outcropping on the right (N 45 16.380 W 121 39.691). To the left are views of Mount Hood. The trees are starting to grow up and obscure the view, but you can still see most of the mountain. If you hit the right gap in the trees you can also see the Highway 35 bridge over the White River far below.

The trail continues along Barlow Ridge but the views don't get any better. To get back to the trailhead return the way you came.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Port-a-potty and picnic table at the trailhead

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Barlow Butte Trail #670 (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Hood, OR #462
  • 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

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe

More Links


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.