Bennett Pass Road

Government Camp, Oregon (HoodRiver County)

Last Updated: 12/01/2021
4.7 / 5 ( 13 reviews )
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Status:
Open
Typically Open: 04/01 - 12/01
Difficulty: 2-3
( EASY - MODERATE )
Length: 11.17 miles
Highest Elevation: 5915 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Government Camp
Nearest Town w/ Services: Government Camp
Official Road Name: 3550
Management Agency: Mount Hood National Forest
District: Hood River and Barlow Ranger Districts

Highlights

Highlight: Bennett Pass Road
Winding along narrow shelf roads, through alpine forests, and past some of the prettiest views in northern Oregon, Bennett Pass Road is a jewel of the Mount Hood National Forest. The amazing views of Mount Hood will be treasured memories for years to come. In the mid-to-late summer, wildflowers bloom along the many hidden hanging meadows and high prairies. Droves of butterflies can swarm around your vehicle on sunny summer afternoons making you think you're in a fairy tale. On very clear days, you can see from Mount Hood and Mount Adams to the north and all the way down south to the Three Sisters and maybe even Diamond Peak. Views to the east span hundreds of miles of high desert and the Oregon Outback.

Video

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
2WD Vehicle with High Clearance
Concerns:
Summary:
The shelf road at Waypoint 6 can be intimidating for those not used to so much exposure. There are occasional ruts and rocks that earn this trail its rating between Waypoints 6 and 11.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
2
EASY
OPTIONAL
3
MODERATE
Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 8" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 9" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 12" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep but with good traction.
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Community Consensus

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Description

Bennett Pass (Mount Hood National Forest Road 3550) Road can be run in either direction although the shelf road described in Waypoint 6 is more easily navigated heading east in left hand drive vehicles. Jaw-dropping views of Mount Hood can be had in the vicinity of Waypoint 6 and between Waypoints 12 and 13. Driving Bennett Pass Road to the east will position your vehicle to have its front in photographs of Mount Hood while driving to the west will show your vehicle's rear bumper in photos. The route runs through varied terrain including towering pine and fir forests, rocky shelf roads, thick and powdery dust, deep washed-out ruts, a fire burn scar, and talus road surfaces. On the shelf road segments, exposure of up to 300 vertical feet is possible although except for at Waypoint 6, the road is always at least 1.5 vehicles wide. In the forest segments, downed trees hem in the road at pinch points where it is possible to pop the sidewall on a tire with improper wheel placement. Turnouts are available sporadically but there are areas where oncoming vehicles may be forced to back up for some distance including on shelf roads. Note that this road is seasonally closed (December 1 - April 1) due to snow and to allow other recreational users to have unfettered access to the area. Please respect this seasonal closure.
The shelf road at Waypoint 6 should be avoided if snowy or icy. The shelf road also is very narrow in one spot which may be difficult for full-sized vehicles to navigate.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trailhead and staging area is at Bennett Pass Trailhead/Sno Park along the road to Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort. A well-maintained pit toilet is available at the bottom of the parking area. On summer weekends, the trailhead is often full of cars for hikers and mountain bikers. The trail starts at the east end of the pavement.
2. Stay East at 3550-250 (0.1 mi)
Stay east (left) at the intersection with 3550-250. The 3550-250 road goes a short distance into the woods and dead-ends.
3. Stay East at 3550-222 (1 mi)
Stay east (left) at the intersection with 3550-222. The spur road 3550-222 branches into several stub roads that quickly dead end in the forest to the south of Bennett Pass Road.
4. Take Southeast (Right) Trail at 3550-630 (1.2 mi)
Take the southeast (right) turn at the intersection with 3550-630. There are good views of Mount Hood on the north side of the road here.
5. Stay East at 3550-240 (1.7 mi)
Stay east (left) at the intersection with 3550-240. The trail begins to get more narrow and rutted as you ascend into the forest and turn more toward the south. There is a good view of Mount Hood here and a small campfire ring although there is nowhere level to pitch a tent.
6. Shelf Road Obstacle (2.4 mi)
The section of shelf road around Waypoint 6 is the narrowest, most off camber, and most exposed shelf road of the entire trail. Watch your wheel placement. The views of Mount Hood here are spectacular and make for a great photo opportunity. There is one area where you can safely pass at the blind corner. This pull-out can hold 3-4 vehicles. At the rocky saddle, it is possible to squeeze one vehicle by another. Once you are back in the forest, there are more opportunities to pull off and let oncoming traffic pass. During the snowy winter months, this is an unsafe section of road to traverse. There is significant exposure on the downhill side and the shelf road has enough camber to allow a vehicle to slip off the side of the road.
7. Turn Northeast at 4891 (4 mi)
Turn northeast (left) at the intersection with 4891. Road 4891 continues to the south as a narrow shelf road. This is a good place to wait for your group to catch up if you have stretched out along the trail.
8. Stay Northeast at 4860 (5 mi)
At 4860, stay to the northeast (far left). 4860, also known as Grasshopper Road, provides access to Badger Lake Campground. There is a short, rough spur road (4860160) at this intersection that heads south to Windy Campground.
9. Stay North at Unmarked Trail (6.2 mi)
Continue north (straight) past a small, unmarked trail on the left. The unmarked trail runs a short distance into the woods to a campsite.
10. Point of Historical Interest (9 mi)
At the Gumjuwac Saddle you will find a historical interpretive sign on the east side of the trail that indicates a French Canadian sheep herder by the name of Jack used to camp here. He wore gum shoes when out in the forest. Hence the name Gumjuwac Saddle and the nearby Jack Springs. A hiking and mountain biking trail crosses the road here. Another hiking and biking trail parallels the road through this area. On popular weekends, it is common to see foot traffic at this waypoint.
11. Stay North at Unmarked Trail (9.2 mi)
Stay to the north (right) at the unmarked trail in the fire scar area. The unmarked trial runs a short way to a campsite. Be careful in this section of the deep dust.
12. Trail End (11 mi)
The intersection of Lookout Mountain Road and 4420 with Bennett Pass Road marks the end of this trail. Proceed north (to the left) onto Lookout Mountain Road if you wish to return to Oregon Highway 35. Proceed east (to the right) onto 4420 to visit the restrooms and the High Prairie Trailhead.
13. Staging Area and Restrooms (11.1 mi)
The High Prairie Trailhead is a good place to take a break with the picnic benches, pit toilets, and ample (day fee required) parking. On popular summer weekends, this area is packed with cars that can spill down onto Lookout Mountain Road.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Government Camp

From Government Camp, head east on US 26. Take the right turn onto Oregon Highway 35 toward Hood River and Mount Hood Meadows Ski Area. After about nine miles, take the exit for Mount Hood Meadows and Bennett Pass Trailhead/Sno Park. The trailhead and staging area are to the right at the pit toilet.

Camping

Dispersed
Dispersed camping is allowed along the trail. Several of the spur roads at the start of the trail have camping sites although highway noise makes these spots less desirable. Toward the middle of the trail, there are several campsites with astounding views of the surrounding mountains. Badger Lake Campground and Windy Campground are both near the trail.
Camping: Bennett Pass Road

Trail Reviews (30)

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Would a Revel 4WD Sprinter van be ok for this route?
–Chris Bedford (01/12/2022)
A: I've seen some full-sized rigs on the trail so you'd probably be okay as long as you're good with tight places and dropoffs. But there's nowhere to turn around for a Sprinter on the shelf road section so if it gets too narrow or too tippy, you'd have to backup a long way.
–Douglas Van Bossuyt (01/12/2022)
Q: Im debating the 3-5 trail rating. Outside of snow what makes this not drivable in a 2wd car?
–Matt Ewalt (06/18/2018)
A: How much damage are you willing to do to a 2wd car? While 4x4 might not be totally necessary when the trail is dry, a high clearance vehicle with good off road tires is a must. Personally, I didn't think the narrow shelf road section at waypoint 6 was very tough at all. However, the section between waypoints 8 and 10 seemed to be the worst when I drove though and was much more challenging than anything the pictures show. It was very rocky and had some deep ruts from all the recent snow melt which made for very slow going, not something I would want to do in a 2wd car.
–Rob (06/22/2018)
A: Hi Matt, The Trails OffRoad contributors discussed the rating of this trail at length in Fall 2017. The low end 3 rating was decided upon based on the narrow off camber section of shelf road at Waypoint 6. A rating of 3 may be too low, as evidenced by Sean's report (trail review below from 06/09/2018) where he turned around at that point based on the narrowness of the trail. While a 2WD truck can navigate the whole trail (assuming no mud or snow), there are rutted sections, some rocks and holes, and other things that align with the current Trails OffRoad technical rating guide: https://www.trailsoffroad.com/technical-ratings The higher end rating of 5 is for when conditions are wet. In snow, the road can be very impassable, especially on the shelf section. I expect in the next few months, the rating system may change to be able to more accurately reflect this trail. The one narrow shelf section at Waypoint 6 should be noted by people traveling Bennett Pass for the first time. Thanks for the question! -Douglas
–Douglas Van Bossuyt (06/19/2018)

Writer Information

Douglas Van Bossuyt

Mapping Crew - Oregon

Douglas grew up riding in the back of pickups in Oregon and California. He comes from a long line of overlanders and adventurers dating back to the Mayflower and the Oregon Trail. During a stint working in Colorado, Douglas fell in love with the offroad scene and immediately gravitated toward the Toyota crowd. His first 4x4 was a 1988 Toyota 4runner nicknamed Goldilocks. After a year of running many of the iconic trails throughout the front range in the fully stock Goldilocks running on bald tires, it was time for an upgrade. Goldilocks went off to a new home and the Albino Rhino came home. The Albino Rhino is a built 1986 Toyota 4runner ready for any adventure anywhere at any time. During the week, Douglas works on systems engineering and architecture problems in California. Douglas also enjoys backpacking -- especially in the central Sierras in California -- scuba diving along the Oregon and California coasts, and riding his motorcycle on the Pacific Coast Highway. Most weeknights you can find Douglas under his truck in the driveway performing maintenance or fixing the latest trail damage.
For individual use only, not to be shared.