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South Umpqua Riverfront Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking to Quarry Hill above the South Umpqua River (bobcat)
Locomotive 1229, Stewart Park, Roseburg (bobcat)
In the oak wood, Riverfront Park, Roseburg (bobcat)
White alder (Alnus rhombifolia) catkins, Deer Creek Park (bobcat)
The trail system from Stewart Park to Deer Creek in Roseburg (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Stewart Park Duck Pond Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Deer Creek (Roseburg)
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 5.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 130 feet
  • High Point: 450 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On nice weekends


Hike Description

Roseburg’s main trail system for cyclists and pedestrians emerges from Stewart Park to run above the South Umpqua River under the I-5 freeway to undeveloped Deer Creek Park. This is definitely an urban hike, but the flocks of waterfowl at Stewart Park’s ponds, the oak woods in Riverfront Park, and the quiet backwater of Deer Creek are islands of nature close to a busy town center.

On a weekend, locals will be feeding the waterfowl at Park Lake. Coots, mallards, Canada geese, domestic Muscovy ducks, and pigeons flock in their hundreds to gorge on bread and other offerings. There are also seed feeders for perching birds. Shyer species, like shovelers, teals, cormorants, great blue herons, and common egrets can be seen out on Park Lake. Nutria also inhabit the area. Walk south from the parking lot with a skate park to your left. Begin a paved trail that leads past plantings of pines. The Municipal Golf Course is to your left, and there’s a sedge-rimmed pond to your right. Brown posts tell about some of the local fauna. The path bends right along the south shore of the pond. Looking south, Mount Nebo’s oak-forested slopes form the horizon. The trail runs along Stewart Parkway for a short stretch and then turns in to cross the parking area of a tennis center and YMCA. A spur left leads to a butterfly garden, after which you’ll skirt a baseball diamond. Soon reach Southern Pacific Locomotive #1229.

The paved path bends left here, but continue straight across Stewart Park Drive towards the South Umpqua River. There are restrooms, a playground, and the Stewart Park Riverfront Trailhead to the right. You can descend under a large oak and past a concert stage (covered in the summer) to reach the cottonwood-shaded river shore. In the winter, the water is high, but in summer there are expanses of beach and rock. Return to Locomotive #1229, and go right to resume the trail.

Cross a street at a bridge over the South Umpqua. To the left are the Eagle Landing Apartments which provide housing for veterans. You're now entering Riverfront Park and its disc golf course. Hike up a grassy sward, and enter a lovely oak wood. A few madrones and ponderosa pines also make their home on this knoll. Look for foraging western gray squirrels and a flock of acorn woodpeckers. Unfortunately, I-5 roars straight ahead. The paved trail loops down past a junction: The trail to the left leads north next to the freeway to reach Garden Valley Road. Keeping right, you’ll pass under the freeway bridge over the South Umpqua and cross a creek to enter Gaddis Park.

Keep walking east, with the river just below and several baseball diamonds to your left. The route now runs just below the railroad, and the South Umpqua runs roughly over an uneven rocky bed. A mossy rock offers a perch and a view upriver. Scan the waters for scudding waterfowl, especially mergansers. Hike into a shady big-leaf maple/cottonwood forest. To the right, you can see where the South Umpqua braids around Elk Island as it cuts through its own meander. Above you are the grassy slopes of a hill that houses three large water tanks and a quarry. Cross an open meadow, and arrive at a junction. The spur to the left takes you under Highway 99 to Rowe Street. Keep straight to the footbridge over Deer Creek. White alder droop over this quiet stream where it enters the South Umpqua River. The trail ends in a few yards, so this is a good spot to turn back.

Return the way you came (There is an option for a loop on a path that heads up the west side of the freeway and then west along Garden Valley Boulevard, but this is obviously very noisy). When you get to the Stewart Park Duck Pond Trailhead, go left at the restrooms. Here the Stewart Park Nature Trail takes you over Newton Creek to a 0.4 mile loop. Go left after the second footbridge to begin the loop, which almost reaches Stewart Parkway before turning up through a thicket-lined meadow and returning. There are fifteen stations that explain the wetland ecosystem. Lift the lid at each station to read about the plants, animals, and hydrology of the area.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Information kiosk, interpretive signs, restrooms, picnic tables
  • Parks open dawn to dusk
  • Dogs on leash


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Oregon Townscape Walks by Tyler Burgess

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.