Snowshoeing the Barlow Road

My sister and I went snowshoeing on a chilly but gorgeous day last weekend. The conditions were actually just perfect for snowshoeing: clear blue skies with snow still on the trees. Since there hadn’t been any precipitation in a few days, I had expected the trees to be bare. But the cold weather and lack of rain following the most recent snowfall meant that the trees were still beautifully snow-covered.

We almost didn’t find a place to park in the Barlow Pass Snopark. We nabbed the second-to-last spot. (More on the parking conditions later.) While we were getting ready and eating snacks, we were visited by several gray jays. They are bold little guys! Clearly (and unfortunately) they are very used to humans and being fed by those humans. Here’s one that landed on my car.

We set off down the Barlow Road under clear blue skies and snowy trees.

Snow was still balancing in little piles on the narrow twiggy branches

We got to Devil’s Half Acre Meadow and Deborah decided to make a snow angel

From the meadow we could see nearby Barlow Butte.

After following a trail into the middle of the meadow, we saw that it kept going, but we didn’t follow, so I don’t know where it went.

More gray jays stalked us, looking for handouts.

We continued down the Barlow Road about another half mile before turning back.

We got a little peek at Mt. Hood just past the meadow. Unfortunately, this was the only picture I got of it that day. We had fantastic views from the highway, and boy did it look beautiful! But we couldn’t stop and take pictures there.

Gray jays continued to appear throughout our trek, and we continued to not feed them.

We had intended to take the Barlow Creek Trail to loop back. We followed what we thought was the right trail, the spur road off of the Barlow Road to the campground. According to the map, the Barlow Creek Trail continues at the end of that spur road. But after following a beaten trail for a few hundred feet, that trail ended and the only thing that continued was one lone set of ski tracks. The route of the spur road was not obvious and the ski tracks were kind of off in the woods. We weren’t sure if we were on the wrong track or if the Barlow Creek trail was just not well-traveled. We decided not to risk it and returned the same way we had come, via the Barlow Road.

We had a heck of a time getting out of the parking lot. Dozens of cars were parked along the already narrow access road between Highway 35 and the parking lot, creating a very narrow lane for getting in and out. It took us more than ten minutes to get out, second in a line of four or five cars, because a truck coming in had to back up along the road. A very high snow bank on one side and a line of cars on the other and absolutely no room for error. I was shocked that parking along this road was allowed, and I have written to ODOT to suggest they not allow this. It’s a rather hazardous situation for the driver who has to back up, an inevitable and probably oft-repeated situation when cars park along the road

We stopped at the Ice Axe Grill on the way home for sweet potato fries and hot drinks. Yum! They had some CRAZY icicles hanging off their roof!

All in all, a great day of snowshoeing. We probably only did three miles, but that’s okay. We had a great time and after SO MANY past winter trips to the mountain on overcast viewless days, it was nice to get clear skies and beautiful snowy trees.