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