Fall Colors · Spring
Pioneer Bridle, at least the lower section is open for most of the year. The upper section is snowed in usually by December. A Northwest Forest Pass or other valid parking permit is required at both the Pioneer Bridle Trailhead and the Glacier View Sno-park Trailhead.
Pioneer Bridle Trail begins just east of the town of Rhododendron at the Pioneer Bridle Trailhead, location of the historic Barlow Trail Tollgate (just east of Tollgate Campground). Another alternative is to begin the trail on the high end of the trail outside Government Camp. The west half of the 8.2-mile trail is relatively flat. The east half of the trail is steeper coming from Government Camp to where the trail crosses the highway.
Starting at the Tollgate, the trail is wide and flat and parallels Highway 26 on your left and some powerlines on your right. At milepost 3.6. the trail crosses a road with powerlines, then heads another short distance before crossing the access road into Laurel Hill quarry. A short distance more, and the trail crosses Highway 26 to the north at a diagonal angle. The trail picks up in a large parking area along the highway. This western portion is steeper and more challenging than the west side of the trail.
The trail begins a steady climb heading west followed by some large switchbacks as it climbs Laurel Hill. It follows some steep side slopes as it climbs above the highway. It then drops and climbs again and heads towards a section of the old Highway 26. There are occasional views through openings towards the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness across the highway. The trail passes very closely to the highway guardrail above Laurel Hill. It follows along a mossy rock wall, before it passes through a tunnel. The trail then switchbacks past a large hole in the ground that is fenced off, and continues up near additional powerlines towards the Glacier View Sno-park and the junction with Crosstown Trail #755
. The Pioneer Bridle Trail is a popular downhill mountain bike trail, so hikers should use caution, even though riders should give right of way.
Flora & Fauna
The lower section of trail is Douglas fir, western hemlock and the occasional western red cedar. There are also plenty of alders, and big leaf maples for fall color. The ground is covered in salal and Oregon grape, with huckleberries in the upper elevations.
Shared By: Kathleen Walker