Pioneer Bridle Trail, the sequel

The section of the Pioneer Bridle Trail north of Highway 26 (between Rhododendron and Government Camp, Oregon) has a vastly different feel than the one I wrote of a week ago.   Like the other section, it receives little traffic, but this area is much hillier and has denser woods.  There are few obvious destinations beside an old mineshaft, but there is nice second growth forest, and on a gray day, this is still a worthy area for a hike.  Yesterday I began hiking at the east end of Road 39, which locals call Kiwanis Camp Road, although a start at the west end of the road, right where the trail crosses the highway, gives a better workout.

When I arrive with Niko at the trailhead, I spy a photographer setting up a shot alongside the stream, presumably looking at the colorful leaves.  I almost talk to her, but I don’t have a leash for Niko, so I think better of it and move on, across the water, onto an old road.  A couple hundred yards uphill, the road peters out and the bridle trail cuts beneath it.  I peel off and head west toward the mine.

The underpass at the beginning of the trail.

The walking is always pleasant.  One unique aspect of this area is the signage of the actual Barlow Road.  History buffs have flagged spots where they have seen evidence for the old wagon road, and there are a couple wooden signs if you know where to look.

Marking the trail

The mineshaft is a gaping maw straight down.  Fencing is there to keep the clueless from hurting themselves.   If you really want to check out an old mine, head up the Bonanza Trail ten minutes away, south of Welches.

Don’t trip! Old mineshaft along the trail.

Beyond the mine, the trail dips slightly, crossing a nice mossy rockslide capped by cliffs.  The top of the cliffs are an easy scramble, but I remain on the trail this time.   There is no view to be had today.

Rockslide views

Rare opening in the forest: the rockslide

Further on, the trail gets into denser, darker woods, with plenty of Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars, along with Vine Maples in the open areas.

I reach a saddle and bushwhack to a favorite secret open spot above the trail.   I call it Baker’s Bump.  It must look nondescript from afar, but there are terrific views in multiple directions.  Today, with the low clouds, the view calls to mind the Smokies or the Misty Mountains of Tolkein fame.   It is a perfect topper to the walk.

Misty mountain hop

A misty mountain view works for Niko as he sniffs around.

Misty Mountain Hiking

A different view from on high

I return the way I came and consider visiting the third and final section of the trail next week, headed up toward the town of Government Camp.

lush flora

Green, green,everywhere I see. Trailside retaining wall.

Snow cloaks Mount Hood now; it could be a much more serious endeavor.    I could use such a more adventurous hike, so stay tuned!

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on November 4, 2012, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Solo Hiking and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Yup, love those misty woods – though at first glance at the picture of your dog in the distance I thought you had a bear barrelling down upon you!

    This post reminded me of those parts of the AT and PCT where the trail passes through reminders of pioneer history: settlements, forts, graves, mines… Really fascinating and one of the things I love about hiking in America.

  2. A hike on a cloudy day is better than no hike, and I often enjoy their moodiness. Your misy mountains do not disappoint.
    Also – is that THE Oregon Trail…as in the one from childhood games on a black and green Tandy? Very cool!

  3. Another great hike to add to my list!

  4. That is also one of my favorite mountain biking trails!

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