You will drive through the middle of what claims to be the largest Anjou Pear Orchard in the world. It is a bit amazing that Glenwood is basically barren of fruit trees because of the late frosts and yet, just a few miles away is a huge pear industry.
As you pass the pear trees, you will find yourself in Gilmer Valley. At one time it was a settlement with homes, sawmills and ranches. That’s why there was the Gilmer School, which is now privately owned.
Enjoy the beauty of this valley and the Kreps Ranch. Don’t be in a hurry to rush to Glenwood. There might be ranch activity on the road, elk or deer in the field along with the cows, a cowboy named Trino on a horse, the summer activity of putting up hay or the winter activity of feeding out the hay.
The original road to Glenwood and Trout Lake came through this valley via Oak Ridge road and this ranch was a busy stage stop.
The road once again starts to climb. Before the days of everyone owning a four wheel drive vehicle, winter travelers would wonder if they would make it to the top of this hill or would they have to stop and chain up.
Once again you break out into an open field. The locals call this the “Old Bloom Place.” There is a sign to the right that says Rattlesnake Road. Don’t take it unless you are prepared for a primitive road and getting lost.
One more short climb and you have reached “The Summit”. As you drop down, you are into the beginnings of the Glenwood Valley or Camas Prairie. In the past, this clearing was the Fulda Mill with a mill pond and houses. Now, it is an open area with the meandering beginnings of Chapman Creek.
The Chapman family were early settlers in the Glenwood Valley and if you want some interesting reading, check out Keith McCoy’s book on Cody Chapman’s memories of growing up here.
Once again, don’t be in a hurry to rush to Glenwood. The road is narrower than what many people are used to. Strangers to the area will say, “I was almost run off the road by a log truck!” They weren’t. Log truck drivers are good drivers. Newcomers just aren’t used to being that close to a big truck.
Around milepost 9 is the Laurel Road to the left. It is marked. To the right is a primitive road that goes up to Diamond Gap, one time home for a fire service lookout, now home for a microwave tower that allows the Glenwood Valley broadband service.
The Laurel Road is gravel, probably not the best for bicycles. It travels through private ground and Refuge ground so there really is no where to get out and walk around, but the scenery is worth the drive or pedal if you want to risk a flat tire.
This area was some of the first to be settled because of natural grass for livestock and fresh water springs. It is a drive worth taking, especially in the spring when ducks and geese are pairing up, the Sand Hill Cranes have arrived, the camas is blooming, elk are tasting the fresh green grass and ranchers are able to turn their cattle out to graze on the new grass after a winter of eating hay.
To the left is the primitive Laurel/Trout Lake Road, straight ahead is the Trout Lake/Glenwood Road. To the right is Kreps Lane which meanders through a working ranch with cow dogs that lie in the middle of the road and slowly get up to let you by and stare at you with their funny colored eye.
You travel through the lake bottom and this is the route to take if you want close up viewing of ducks. You can stop on the canal bridge, scare up the swallows nesting underneath and look over the wide open view of water and grass land edged with timber. There is usually a Sandhill Crane poking around in the grass. Continuing on, Kreps Lane meets up with the BZ/Glenwood Highway at MP 12. Be careful entering the highway. It is a kind of a blind spot.
If you decide not to take the Laurel Rd and continue on the BZ/Glenwood Highway, MP 11 is the location of the old Dymond Ranch. It is now part of the Refuge, but the abundance of lilac blooms tell you it was at one time a home. The elk will often hang around in this area, so be sure to watch.
Just before MP 12, on the right hand side, is a little white fence with a pioneer grave. A.J. Lowell born Dec 16, 1827. Died July 19 1890.
In this area is where the Whitcomb log home originally stood. At MP 12 Kreps Lane enters the road.
There are several wide spots along the road where you can pull off for a peaceful view of the mountain and lake bottom and listen to the meadow larks but remember the land is private or refuge so no trespassing.
The Miller Ranch provides maybe one of the most famous Valley views of fall colors and the mountain.
For centuries, Native Americans camped here near the springs, dug camas, raced horses on the race track and made arrow heads.
The growing season for gardens can be an extra month on this side of the valley. Two extra weeks in the spring and two extra weeks in the fall before a killing frost.
Just east of here on Lakeside Road is the Old Conboy Homestead. There are old fruit trees at this homestead site that often times bear fruit.
Glenwood can get a killing frost any month of the summer which makes it hard to grow gardens and especially hard for fruit trees to produce.
Around the next curve is the Lakeside School.
There are still a few Glenwood residents around who attended this school. It is now a private residence.
In the spring, both sides of the road are dotted with daffodils and lilacs attesting to the days of early farmers who sold their farms to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Continuing on to Glenwood, you will cross the Canal Bridge at Snake Island. Yes, it really has snakes. The non poisonous kind that swim around when everything is flooded. It is an island because it is between The Canal and the Bird Creek Channel.
This is a good area to look for Sandhill Cranes.
Continuing on into Glenwood, you pass a Washington State Heritage Barn, at the home of Glen and Mary Pierce.
“In Glenwood there is a picturesque, large red barn that serves as a familiar landmark of the community, on what was once the Oscar and Antonie Kuhnhausen farm. Over the years the barn has been a subject for artists and photographers and has even graced the cover and been featured in some magazines. This well known and well loved old barn has finally been getting some much needed repairs.
Oscar Kuhnhausen immigrated to the United States as a young adult in the early 1880s. He had learned the iron working and blacksmithing trade in Germany and worked a year for Deering Harvester in Chicago before continuing out west to homestead in Camas Prairie (the Glenwood Valley).
Oscar married Antonie Haase in 1893 and, in 1906, they sold Oscar’s original homestead and purchased his brother Hugo’s homestead, about a mile to the north. They named their new homestead ‘Shady Nook Farm.’ At that time, Oscar and Antonie had three children: Gerda, Sophie, and Osmar. Their youngest daughter, Wallie, was born at Shady Nook Farm in 1907.
The big red barn was built around 1884 by Hugo and Oscar, with help from other Kuhnhausen brothers and friends. The Pierce family estimates the silo was added by Oscar in 1914, based on family photos and a date painted on the silo wall, inside the passageway. Oscar made good use of the silo to store chopped hay, and, in later years, grain.”
The last straight stretch of road into Glenwood is called Feller Lane by the locals. Driving a car, it doesn’t feel like you are gaining any elevation, but just ask any of the track kids who have had to run back to school for their workout and they will tell you it is definitely uphill.