Destination of the Month
New, notable or just plain cool travel destinations across the Northwest
Lewis and Clark canoed the Columbia River to coastal Astoria, but I prefer to follow the footsteps of those brave pioneers who entered the Pacific Northwest via the historic Oregon Trail. About 45 miles southeast of Portland, Welches, Ore., is home to the Barlow Road interpretive trail, at the eastern end of the Oregon Trail's final overland segment into the Willamette Valley. Several other excellent, if slightly less ambitious, trails also course through this area.
I expect to spy some furry Ewoks giggling from under the huge sword ferns when I slip onto the Old Salmon River Trail for an early morning walk within the old growth hemlock forest. I’m not surprised to see a juvenile bald eagle scrutinizing the riverbank, given that the entire 34-mile Salmon River is designated “wild and scenic,” the only designation for a full river in the Lower 48. This trail leads, like so many here, into a vast wilderness.
If you’d rather golf than hike, I suggest trekking over 27 woodland holes at The Resort at The Mountain, a friendly layout beside streams and western red cedars emblematic of Cascade foothills golf. The Resort’s Altitude restaurant, with such entrées as “seafood paella” and “pan-seared oatmeal-crusted trout,” might be the best dining room this side of Timberline Lodge, while accommodations including mod rooms and villas (renovated in 2009) make The Resort perfect for a sylvan special occasion or family gathering.
After exploring Welches’ trails and history, I can almost conjure up the excitement (and relief!) experienced by those Oregon Trail pioneers as they emerged from Mt. Hood’s Barlow Pass to follow the path toward their future.
—Story by Crai S. Bower
(Photo: Hikers along the Little Zigzag Falls Trail, courtesy of mthoodterritory.com.)
Find online maps and planning tools for your next road trip at AAA.com.
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