Barlow Road FS3530

Barlow Road (FS3530)

Distance: 48 miles
Running Time: Approx. 4 to 5 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Pass Needed: NO


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In September, 1845, hundreds of emigrants began arriving at The Dalles at the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge.  One of these emigrants was Samuel K. Barlow.  Barlow set out into the Cascades searching for a route to the Willamette Valley.  By the end of October, 1845, Samuel Barlow had managed to reach the Willamette and appeared before the Provisional Legislature to seek a franchise for opening a toll road from The Dalles, Oregon to Oregon City.  The last segment of the Oregon Trail was opened in the fall of 1846 and was named the Barlow Road. 

The Barlow road was the first toll road in Oregon and operated under private ownership for the longest period of time.  It was estimated that nearly 145 wagons, 1000 emigrants and 1559 head of horses, mules, and cattle used the route that first year.  The fare was $5 per wagon and $.10 a head for livestock.  Today it's free.

Water was of the utmost importance to the early settlers and natural springs provided for them and the livestock during the long journey.  One of these watering stops  is Immigrant Springs.  In the 1930s a well box was installed to hold the water.  The box had a small hatch in the top to allow access to the clear cold water.  It is still visible today, just a few hundred feet from the trail.

The Barlow Road today is neither a big challenge or unmanageable with even a 2wd pickup although there are a few tight areas that a larger vehicle would have to be careful for.  As with most trails, it could be a vastly different story with a lot of water as I did see evidence of some nasty mud holes.  There are no less than 6 forest service campgrounds along the route that provide ample opportunity for an overnight stay.  There are also several places to picnic that provide pit toilets and picnic tables. 

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Getting There:

From Portland, Oregon, take Hwy 26 east towards Mt. Hood and Government Camp.  Government Camp will be the last place you can fill up the gas tank before the trail so top off here.  Shortly after Government Camp will be a turn off for Hwy 35.  Follow Hwy 35 a few miles and watch for the sign to Barlow Road.  The turnoff is on the right just prior to the Barlow Pass summit.

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Topo Data File:   Barlow Road.tpo

Printable Maps:  Barlow West .jpg        Barlow East.jpg