The Mount Hood region is richly steeped with pioneer stories of the Oregon Trail. Historical markers pepper the roadsides and interpretive centers showcase tales from the settlers. While times have changed since the pioneers settled in Oregon, the majesty of Mount Hood and the beauty of the landscape have remained the same.
Wagon ruts can still be found in the open spaces around Mount Hood. Numerous interpretive centers around the area have artifacts on display and anecdotal as well as empirical data about the long journey the pioneers made.
The Oregon Trail shaped the United State's West Coast. A common idea is that most of the American west would be part of Canada or Mexico had the trail never existed.
In 1845, Oregon Trail pioneers Samuel K. Barlow, Joel Palmer and their parties opened the first wagon trail over the Cascade mountain range south of Mt. Hood. While still a very difficult endeavor, the Barlow Trail became the preferred route over the dicey Columbia River rafting route to Oregon City.
Along the trail in summertime, wagon trains, army units, missionaries, hunting parties, traders and sightseeing tours utilized the route. A smart traveler ended their day's travel early to secure a good campsite.