Although today it’s a tame four-lane highway, the road up the mountain still has that 18th century Oregon Trail feel. This piece is named the Barlow Road after the entrepreneur who built a toll portion on this otherwise free emigrant route, and it cuts a wild and treacherous course over the crest of the Cascades. Imagine being one of those early travelers who crossed a continent to find this forested valley beside the rushing Salmon River. I bet you would stay.
Samuel Welches did just that in the 1880’s when he opened a modest hotel in the village he founded. After forty years of growth it was ready to support vacationers from nearby Portland, so with a “build and they will come” attitude, a 9-hole golf course was constructed to become the first in Oregon. Over the years it grew in size and was last redone in 1989 to adopt a contemporary Northwest style while retaining many of the best elements from it’s past. Today it no longer extends a welcome to just travelers and golfing enthusiasts, but also boasts vacation accommodations ranging from guest rooms to home rentals, along with an onsite spa and casual upscale restaurant serving the inspired creations of Executive Chef Paul Bosch.
When you go:
Portland’s view of the iconic summit of Mt. Hood, only a one-hour drive to the east on U.S. Highway 26, often has clouds capping the summit. In the beginning days of the trail, great thunderstorms beset the early emigrants, so it’s no wonder the resort is concerned about the perception of weather by potential guests. During my August visit the peak was indeed obscured by clouds, but since it sits in a valley nearly 9,000 feet below, the sunny days by the pool were refreshing. You can follow numerous hiking trails that crisscross the surrounding National Forest year round, and for winter fun, a quick 20-minute drive lifts you several thousand feet higher along the Barlow Route to Government Camp and one of Oregon’s favorite ski areas.
Photography by: Steve Smith