Riding Oregon's Barlow Road

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Riding the Barlow Trail

The Columbia River Gorge is loaded with big background. Starting with its vast geologic history that evolved from the end of the last ice age, to Lewis and Clark in the 1800s, and the building of dams up and down the Columbia in the 1900s, the list is long.

Following Lewis & Clark's expedition, it didn't take long for others to start migrating west. In the midst of it all, wagon roads were required to move people, their belongings and goods across America. In 1845 the Barlow Road was constructed to carry pioneers to the Northwest over the Cascade Mountain Range.

The road is intact today. West of Mt. Hood, it is paved and a very fun ride on a motorcycle. Locate Marmot Road and the Barlow Trail Road just north of Highway 26. Then follow Lolo Pass Road out to 26 and continue east up to Government Camp where there's food and fuel to be had.

The eastern portion of the road remains as it was, a dirt wagon trail. You could try and put a car on it, but it wouldn't be much fun. On a dual sport bike, you can ride a bit of history.

This section of Barlow Trail isn't for every rider though. While it's in the national forest, it is not an NF Road. It's considered a trail and gets very little servicing, just enough to keep it passable. But fear not, if you start the ride and decide it's not for you, simply take one of the dirt bailouts to the north of the road which occur every few miles and you will be led back to the paved FS 48. If, however, you complete the entire stretch, you will be considered the "ADV Gaucho of the Forest" for a day and you can tell your story to others for the rest of your life.

The best map to view this in detail is the Benchmark Oregon Road and Recreation Atlas, available at better outdoor recreation stores and online at https://store.soundrider.com. Pages 36, 37, 49, and 50 provide all the graphic details.

SR/June 22

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