We set out on another camping trip – this time without the Explorer Box; just our roof top tent and the Suzuki Sidekick as our ‘camper’. We put the tent on top of the Suzuki, Arko-Mills containers were packed with food and utensils a small bag of clothes and we were off! Grabbed the coats – we are experiencing an early fall.
Our route took us up Hwy 26 through Government Camp. We stopped to check out Trillium Lake then had lunch at Clear Lake. All campgrounds were full. Making reservations is a really good idea.
There were campsites available at Clear Lake – but decided against camping there and headed down Hwy 26 to Hwy 35 and took State Forest Road 3530 – “The Old Barlow Trail”. Pioneers blazed this trail and Barlow Road was the first road recognized in Oregon. This area has many wagon trail ruts and history about the pioneers. The Barlow Road allowed thousands of Oregon Trail emigrants to travel overland to the Willamette Valley rather than risk floating the dangerous Columbia River. Travelers crossed through Summit Meadow and what is now the village of Government Camp. You can read all about the road and history here.
The road is rocky, full of potholes and slow. We really got an idea of the hardships shared by the pioneers that came over this road. We drove for about a half an hour after we stopped briefly at “Devil’s Half Acre” then continued on to a camp site called “Grindstone”. There was a fire pit and it showed use – but it was way too remote for me (the wife) so we drove back to “Devil’s Half Acre” where, on the map, there were two camping spaces. They were also taken; so we pulled off the road right across from the meadow and set up camp in about three minutes. Scott made a fire, we roasted hot dogs, played Mancala, cards and then hit the rack at sundown.
After a chilly night all snug in our warm tent – we woke up to cloudy skies, packed up and headed out to drive around Mt. Hood on Hwy 35. We drove around the bend at White Creek and were stunned by a sunny and majestic view of Mt. Hood.
Then we took the Cooper Spur Resort exit and followed the forest road 3512 up to Cloud Cap which afforded great views of Elliot Glacier.
There is a lodge here that dates back to the pioneer days. It fell into disrepair in the 1920’s – was slated to be rebuilt, but the depression happened. The forest service took control of it, rebuilt the lower floor and keeps it up and running for the state. There’s a large walk-in campground down the hill from the lodge.
The road to Cooper Spur looked out over the valley – off in the distance you can see Mt. Rainier.
We drove down and returned to Hwy 35, exiting for Parkdale where we gassed up and checked out the train. We then took Hwy 281 to Hwy 13 toward Lost Lake, Hwy 18 to Lolo Pass and forest road 1828 that takes you through the back country – it’s a one lane road but almost paved the entire way. We saw deer, a gray fox and lots of chipmunks. The fox was too fast to get a photo. Hwy 18 hooks up with Hwy 26 then we were on our way home.
All in all it was not what we planned – but better. Getting off the beaten path with just the Suzuki was easy and we slept for about ten hours warm and safe on top of the car. Scott said he was awoken by coyotes in the night, and there were signs of bobcat and coyotes around the camp site.
We’d never driven around Mt. Hood so were awed at the vistas. Next week – the Oregon Coast.