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A Family Adventure on The Oregon Trail

03/13/2019 | Dufur, Estacada, Heritage, Hiking, Mt Hood Territory, Mt. Hood, Road Trip, The Dalles

175 years ago, thousands of families set out on one of the most epic -- and dangerous -- migrations of people in human history. This was known as the Oregon Trail.

The Oregon Trail spanned over 2,100 miles, from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon, taking families anywhere from 5 to 6 months to complete. The final leg of the Trail was known as the Barlow Road, built in 1846. This route, from The Dalles to Oregon City, was built after many families lost their lives and/or livestock trying to make their way down the Columbia River. The Barlow Road was a better alternative, taking caravans around the southern side of Mt Hood, and then out west to Oregon City. Today, you and your family can learn all about the pioneers and Native American families who travelled through and lived on this land in the 1800s.

Start with a trip to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum in The Dalles to learn about the Native American tribes of the area, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and what events lead to the Oregon Trail. Follow the Barlow Road south and take a trip back in time to visit the Dufur Living History museum that houses original pioneer equipment, artifacts, and buildings retrieved from nearly vanished towns.

Feeling active? Why not hike or bike part of the Oregon Trail just like the pioneers once did. Check out trails at Summit Meadows or explore the Wildwood Recreation Area that has access to original and newly paved trails following the Barlow Road route. Finally, don’t miss a visit to Philip Foster Farm, out near Estacada, where your family can build log cabins, see a working blacksmith, and grind corn just like the pioneering Foster family did 175 years ago. This is also a great spot to bring a picnic and watch your kids experience a piece of Oregon’s history.

Looking for more ways to enhance your experience? Check out the Mt. Hood Territory Heritage Trail App:, or pick up an Oregon Trail Kid’s Activity Guide found at Welcome Centers across Oregon.

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