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Upper Rogue River Hikes

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Boundary Springs in 2012 (B. Hope)
Rough Rider Falls (B. Hope)
Pumice cliffs cut by the river (B. Hope)
Rogue River in an old lava tube (B. Hope)
Takelma Gorge(B. Hope)
  • Start point: Options, see below
  • End point: Options, see below
  • Trail log:
  • Distance: (total) ~47 miles
  • Elevation gain: ~1,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: May to November (high water in side creeks in Spring; many campgrounds don't open before Memorial Day)
  • Family Friendly: Somewhat, short hikes near section trailheads can be fun
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No, except for Takelma Gorge between Natural Bridge and Woodruff Bridge

Contents

Section Hikes Overview

Oregon's Rogue River flows, from its headwaters at Boundary Springs within Crater Lake National Park, generally westward for 215 miles to where it discharges into the Pacific Ocean near Gold Beach, Oregon. Of the river's total length, 124 miles has been designated as Wild and Scenic under the provisions of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Hiking trails follow the river for approximately 100 miles, divided into three major trails: (1) The Lower trail, which runs 11-miles westward from Agness, Oregon; (2) the very well-known Rogue River Trail (post), a National Recreation Trail which stretches for 40 miles between Grave Creek and Foster Bar, and (3) the Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034), also a National Recreation Trail. The #1034 mostly follows the river for about 47 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs within Crater Lake National Park to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside of Prospect, Oregon. It can be thru-hiked but is more often hiked in sections. Each section is readily accessible from Oregon Highways 62 or 230, which greatly simplifies arranging a shuttle between trailheads. The trail is described by section – from north to south – and links are provided to details and trip reports about each section. Approximate trail miles are shown in { }, starting from Crater Rim View at {0.0}.

Crater Rim Viewpoint to Boundary Springs

Crater Rim Viewpoint (also called the Mt. Mazama Viewpoint) is located on Oregon Highway 230 about 5.3 miles southwest of its junction with Oregon Highway 138; there is a pit toilet here and parking for about 20 cars. Although not part of the Upper Rogue River Trail, a different trail (USFS #1057) takes you from here to the headwaters of the Rogue River – where the river really does start by shooting right out of the ground. It is 5 miles round-trip, with 400 feet of elevation gain, from the Viewpoint to the Springs. Unfortunately, in August 2015, the National Creek Complex Fire burned across the Boundary Springs area, taking out about half of the trees along the entire trail. The #1057 presumably reopened in August 2016 but it would be a good idea to check with the High Cascades Ranger District in Prospect, Oregon for current trail conditions.

Crater Rim Viewpoint to Hamaker Campground

Highlights in this 8.6 mile section include Rough Rider Falls, about {5.5} and the somewhat smaller "No Name Falls" at {7.0}. At approximately {9.0}, the trail crosses Forest Road (FR) 6530 and shortly thereafter arrives at Hamaker Campground. The August 2015 National Creek Complex Fire burned this entire section of the #1034, but killed only about half of the trees. Trail crews cleared fallen logs in August 2016 between Hamaker Campground and No Name Falls but the area around Rough Rider Falls was still clogged with fallen trees in September 2016. So, here again, it would be a good idea to check its actual status with the High Cascades Ranger District in Prospect, Oregon.

Hamaker Campground to Foster Creek

To reach Hamaker Campground, head north from Union Creek on Oregon Highway 230 toward Diamond Lake to milepost 12. Turn right onto FR 6530 and follow it 1 mile, turn right on to FR 900, and follow it past the Hamaker Campground turnoff (FR 930), to its end at the sturdy bridge over the Upper Rogue River. The northbound trail takes off 0.1 mile before the bridge, uphill to the left. The southbound trailhead is just across the bridge on the right, on the edge of remarkably large Hamaker Meadow. Highlights along this 8.9 mile section include some rapids, a small waterfall (at about {14.5}), and large pumice/ash cliffs. At about {12.0} you cross Hurryon Creek and at about {17.5} National Creek – both on large fallen logs. At about {18.3}, the trail crosses FR 6530 and then climbs up to the trailhead on Oregon Highway 230 {20.0}. There is an old trailhead sign on the west side of the highway.

Foster Creek to Big Bend Trailhead

This is the most poorly maintained, and thus the most adventurous, 7.7 mile section of the #1034. None of the foot bridges shown on the USGS map still exist, so expect to wade Foster Creek {21.0} and the marshy areas between {24.5} and {25.5} if you hike this section during Spring high water. As of May 2016, the trail tread was uncertain in many places, the going slow, and the need for good route-finding skills obvious. This section is definitely worth doing, if for no other reason than the unique views of the huge ash/pumice bluffs that are cut through by the river. But it is more than a little discouraging to see a National Recreation Trail so poorly maintained. At about {27.5}, the trail reaches the Big Bend trailhead, which is one mile west of Oregon Highway 230 on FR 6510, which is about one mile north of the junction of Oregon Highways 62 and 230.

Big Bend Trailhead to Natural Bridge Viewpoint

This 7.0 mile section was, as of March 2015, in good condition – generally clear of ravel and blowdown and thus easy to find and follow. At about {30.3}, you’ll pass an interesting old wooden water tank next to the trail and shortly thereafter be able to see Farewell Bend campground across the river. At {33.0} expect to wade across Flat Creek (or get lucky finding a log upstream). At {34.2} you cross the Rogue River on a sturdy bridge, then cross it again at {35.3} on another sturdy bridge that takes you to the Natural Bridge Viewpoint (ample parking area and pit toilets). This Viewpoint is 0.5 mile west of Oregon Highway 62, about 1.5 miles south of Union Creek, Oregon.

Natural Bridge Viewpoint to Woodruff Bridge Campground to River Bridge Campground

These two sections can be easily combined into one 8.1 mile hike. These are the most popular sections of the #1034, so they are well-maintained and easy to follow. The Takelma Gorge, where the river makes an abrupt 90 degree turn through a steep lava chasm, is a justifiably popular attraction in the Woodruff Bridge to River Bridge section. Woodruff Bridge Campground is about 2 miles west of Oregon Highway 62 on FR 68, which is about 6 miles north of the USFS ranger station near Prospect, Oregon.

River Bridge Campground to North Fork Dam Recreation Area

This 6.1 mile section, which, as of September 2016, was in good condition, briefly parallels the river, then climbs above it on to a bluff (you can always hear the river but can rarely see it), then goes away from the river to bypass private land, and finally rejoins the river (which is now restrained by a small diversion reservoir) at the North Fork Dam Recreation Area, which marks the end of the #1034. There is a large campsite with good access to the river at {37.0}. The 0.5 mile gravel access road, which connects this recreation area to Highway 62, starts immediately south of the USFS ranger station outside Prospect, Oregon.

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition): Hike #21, Boundary Springs
  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition): Hike #41, Crater Rim Viewpoint to Hamaker Campground
  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein and Zach Urness (2014): Hike #23, Upper Rogue Canyon / Rough Rider Falls
  • Rogue River National Forest (Oregon) Location map (very useful for making sense of the forest roads)

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.