Trail of the Month

Buzzard Point Trail

By Brian Barker December 23, 2011 Published in the January 2012 issue of Portland Monthly

WHY IT’S GREAT: Disregard the ominous name. This bite-size route, accessed from the often-overlooked Barlow Pass Sno-Park east of Government Camp, delivers knockout Mount Hood views and an intriguing dose of Oregon Trail history. The Buzzard Point Trail follows a long-abandoned section of Highway 35 on a gentle glide down through thick stands of snow-flecked firs. At the half-mile mark, a clear-cut showcases Hood in all its glory. Con-tinue one mile, around a tight turn, for a quick descent to the Pioneer Woman’s Grave, found on the left side of the road just past the intersection with the Beaver Marsh Trail. Sometimes buried in snow, the humble rock pile and sign here commemorate an anonymous woman who perished along the Barlow Road, a spur of the Oregon Trail that cleaved into the Cascades. If your legs are game, continue a short distance to catch sight of the East Fork of the Salmon River entombed in snow, and look for the second entrance to the 1.5-mile Beaver Marsh loop, which offers two more river crossings and an abundance of solitude.

DON’T FORGET: Elevation is relatively low (ranging from 4,157 feet to 3,690 feet at the grave site), so watch snow levels closely to ensure the best conditions.

POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE: El Burro Loco What a does a Michigander know about Mexican cuisine? Apparently plenty. Run by a Kalamazoo native, this longtime Welches cantina is the real deal, with juicy wild boar carnitas and pineapple-brined pork loin pastor tacos. More than a dozen kinds of tequila also rev up internal combustion. Come prepared to cheer for the Red Wings. 67211 E Hwy 26, Welches; 503-622-6780;

TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: From Government Camp, drive 2 miles east to Highway 35 north toward Hood River. Continue 2 miles and look for the entrance to Barlow Pass Sno-Park on the right. Sno-Park permit required.

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