Famous & Infamous Sites of the Barlow Trail Tour

The Autumn of 2003 marked the 158th Anniversary of the first toll road over the Cascade Mountain Range. Known as the Barlow Trail, this was the final overland link of the Oregon Trail that allowed emigrant travelers a cheaper but far more dangerous alternative to rafting their covered wagons down the Columbia River. This is one reason why exploring these famous and infamous sites is so important.

In 1845, the wagon parties of Samuel Kimbrough Barlow, Joel Palmer, and William Rector joined together and attempted to make the first crossing of the 11,235-foot Mount Hood by widening an Ancient Indian path. From mid-September through December, they battled their way through the thick timber of the Mountain's southern flank, and failed. They had to cache their "Prairie Schooners" and most of their possessions in a crudely-made log cabin, which they called "Fort Deposit", and hiked out. The last person in the party did not reach didn't Oregon City until Christmas Day.

That Winter, Barlow received a charter from the Provisional Government of Oregon, in addition to $4,500, to establish a toll road over the Cascade Mountain Range. Traveling along this toll road required, amongst other things, lowering the wagons down the steep cliffs of Big Laurel Hill with ropes. Today, with the expertise of an interpreter with the Cascade Geographic Society, everyone can experience this unique and colorful history by visiting emigrant campsites, graves, tollgates, wagon ruts and swales, and even the infamous Big Laurel Hill, the worst section of the 2,000-plus mile Oregon Trail. Or, study Old-Growth Forests, wetlands, Wild Rivers, Salmon and wildlife habitats, ethnobotany, environmental issues, and more, all located alongside this historic trail. 

A carpool tour of this area is normally offered as during the Mt. Hood Huckleberry Festival, it explores sections of Mount Hood’s Barlow Trail, a Native American path that became the first toll road over the Cascade Mountain Range. Participants visit pioneer graves, campsites, tollgates, and view remnants of this historic Wilderness path, including ruts and swells of the long gone Prairie Schooners.

However please feel free to contact us regarding walking tours which are available for educational study. You may experience this unique and colorful history of Mount Hood's infamous Oregon Trail in a personal way. Just give us a call at (503) 622-4798 for further information and details. Wešll work with you to develop just the right field studies experience for you and your class.