“Pioneer Bridle takes you from Government Camp to Rhododendron.”
— Kathleen Walker
This trail is open most of the year but may be snowed in at the upper levels in winter.
Pioneer Bridle Trail is an 8-mile trail that takes you from the town of Government Camp (starting at Glacier View Trailhead) to nearly the town of Rhododendron. The trail follows the Barlow Road - part of the Oregon Trail followed by pioneers in wagon trains coming to Oregon and wanting to avoid rafting their wagons down the Columbia. The upper part of the trail drops down Laurel Hill, which the pioneers noted in their diaries - as the most difficult part of the route from Missouri. They had to lower their wagons with ropes tied around trees because it was so steep.
From the trailhead at Glacier View, the trail is more intermediate classification as you travel adjacent to the "old Highway 26" sections and brush close to the guard rail along the current highway location. From there, you drop down and pass through a tunnel under an old highway bridge. Little Zigzag Falls Trail (closed to bikes) is very close and is a short 1/4-mile hike into this small waterfall. Once past the tunnel and despite the fact that you are dropping from Government Camp to Rhododendron, there are some steady climbs up Laurel Hill before you begin descending again.
The downhill section of Laurel Hill is a fast blast until you reach Highway 26. For those just wanting the steeper parts of the trail, you can stage a vehicle along the north side of the highway where the trail crosses. Otherwise, very carefully cross Highway 26 and continue the trail towards Rhododendron. This section of trail, can be classified as easy as it is a gentle downhill ride on combinations of dirt and wider gravel that was brought in to deal with highway drainage which was trenching the trail which is the lowest point in the area. Some may find it boring, compared to the other part of the trail, but it provides a nice cooldown. The trail officially ends at the Tollgate Rest Area where a replica of the Tollgate for the pioneer wagons had to pay for access to the Barlow Road. Bikers can continue down Highway 26 1/2 mile to the town of Rhododendron and cool off at the Dairy Queen or another local dining establishment.
The Pioneer Bridle Trail can be combined with Timberline to Town Trail
and Crosstown Trail #755
to ride from Timberline Lodge to the Forest boundary. This segment is a completed segment of the future Mt. Hood to Rose City Trail Corridor planned for future years.