The Barlow Pass Sno-Park is a classic snowshoeing route around Mount Hood. As with many of the beautiful sno-parks in the area, this route is full of evergreen trees covered in snow. The recommended route goes from Frog Lake Sno-Park to Barlow Pass sno-park, which allows for more downhill on the way out. The easiest and most simple way to complete this route is to use a shuttle instead of making a trek back to the car from Barlow Pass.
What Makes It Great
The trees in this area are exceptionally large for the elevation and add to the charm and beauty of this place, especially when snow covered. Once on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), snowshoers can expect to go uphill for much of the way. In about a mile and a half, there is a fork in the trail that leads to one of the Twin Lakes, but you should continue north on the PCT.
Eventually, you will run into the second trail junction for Twin Lakes and continue on the PCT yet again. Shortly after this second junction, you will come across a landform that sometimes allows you to see the summit of Mount Hood through the trees at 4500 feet. From the Upper Twin Falls trail, it is only a little more than a mile to get to the Barlow Pass Sno-Park. Even though this trail is fairly heavily used, the snowshoer will have a perception of isolation and will surely have sections of this trail in solitude. This can be a perfect escape from city life in the silence of fallen or falling snow.
For an alternative route, you can take the loop to snowshoe around the Twin Lakes. To accomplish this, the snowshoer should turn at the first trailhead and will end up back on the PCT in the intersection of the second trailhead. The lakes, especially the Upper Twin Lake, make for incredible lunch stops as well as turn-around points if the skier is tired.
If you decide a good view of Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and Trillium Lake is worth an extra push to make it to Ghost Ridge, that trail will come up right after the second trail junction for Twin Lakes. It is pretty much the only point on the trail that the snowshoer will get out of the trees enough to take in an open view. The viewpoint at Ghost Ridge sits at about 4800 feet, but the push to get there is not too bad.
Who is Going to Love It
There is a lot to love about Barlow Pass, though it may be difficult for inexperienced snowshoers because of the uphill sections. That being said, if a beginner is up for a more challenging route, this is a perfect one to try that out on. For intermediate or experienced snowshoers, this is a great day route surrounded by evergreen trees and great views, especially if one decides to take the Ghost Ridge route.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get there from Portland, head towards Government Camp on Highway 26. Frog Lake is just southeast of Government Camp. The trailhead is on the north end of the parking lot, which is also the trailhead for Twin Lakes.
Snowshoers start out on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is known for its beautiful Northwestern forests.