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Upper Table Rock Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View from Upper Table Rock towards Mt. McLoughlin (Cheryl Hill)
Frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa), Upper Table Rock Trail (bobcat)
Lower Table Rock from Upper Table Rock (bobcat)
Common camas (Camassia quamash), Upper Table Rock Trail (bobcat)
The loop at Upper Table Rock (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo


Hike Description

Upper Table Rock and Lower Table Rock (collectively referred to as the Table Rocks) rise 800 feet above the north bank of the Rogue River. About 7.5 million years ago, the eruption of a shield volcano near Lost Creek Lake created a lava flow that caused the valley floor to rise in elevation to the height of the Table Rocks. Over millions of years as the Rogue River meandered through the valley, it eroded and carved away about 90 percent of the lava, and the Table Rocks are all that remain. Trails lead to the tops of both rocks, and this hike to Upper Table Rock is the shorter of the two. April and May, when the wildflowers are blooming and the blazing heat of summer has not yet arrived, are the best months to visit.

After checking out the trailhead sign boards, hike uphill on the trail as it heads into the forest. In April and May you'll spot numerous wildflowers growing beneath the oaks and madrones of this forest, including camas, cat's-ear, fawn lily, and paintbrush. You will also notice how profuse the poison oak is here, so be sure to stay on trail. The trail passes between two massive andesite boulders that have broken away from the rim above.

After half a mile you will reach a viewpoint on the left with a bench, although the vegetation makes it hard to see much of anything. A quarter-mile later is another bench with a better view that includes Mount McLoughlin as well as the rim of Upper Table Rock above. To the south, you can see Roxy Ann Peak east of Medford, with Grizzly Peak behind, as well as a sweep of Siskiyous from Mount Ashland to Dutchman Peak. Back in the woods, a trail "staircase" is made of rounded rocks, denoting this was once the bed of the Rogue River!

After climbing up through the forest for 1.2 miles and three more switchbacks, the trail emerges onto the flat mesa and a junction. Ahead of you is a low wooden fence protecting the vernal pools. These seasonal ponds are formed when rainwater collects in depressions. They are a refuge for a threatened species of fairy shrimp and a plant called the dwarf woolly meadowfoam, which is native to the Table Rocks and is found nowhere else. The area around the pools is sensitive habitat, so do not climb over the fence.

Follow a faint trail to the left that will take you to the southern rim of Upper Table Rock. From here you can look down on the Rogue Valley and the mountains beyond, including prominent Mount McLoughlin and Mount Ashland. Wildflowers on the scabland include gold stars, bicolored lupine, popcorn flower, phacelia, and buckwheat.

The trail turns to the right, following the southern rim until reaching a point where you can look down into the forest bowl formed by the U shape of Upper Table Rock. From here you can also see Lower Table Rock, so named because it is downstream along the Rogue River in relation to Upper Table Rock. The partially logged profile of Timber Mountain dominates the western horizon, and you can see as far as five California peaks that are snow-capped in spring: Cook and Green Butte, Red Butte, Kangaroo Mountain, Desolation Peak, and Kinney Mountain.

The trail follows the rim above the bowl until a junction where you will turn right and head east back to the point where you emerged from the forest. If you're not quite ready to head back yet, you will pass a trail on your left heading northwest which you can explore towards a white VHF aviation tower. Otherwise hike back to the forest edge and return the way you came.

Regulations, Facilities, etc.

  • Restrooms, picnic tables, information kiosk, interpretive signs
  • Car clout trailhead: take your valuables with you
  • Dogs, horses, and bicycles are prohibited.
  • Stay on the trails; picking wildflowers is not allowed.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Extraordinary Oregon! by Matt Reeder
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Best Hikes with Children: Western & Central Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • Oregon & Washington: 50 Hikes With Kids by Wendy Gorton
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Southern Oregon & Northern California by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Favorites: Trails and Tales by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Oregon’s Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein & Victor Harris
  • Hiking Oregon’s Southern Cascades and Siskiyous by Art Bernstein
  • 76 Day-Hikes Within 100 Miles of the Rogue Valley by Art Bernstein
  • Where the Trails Are: Ashland - Medford And Beyond by Bill Williams
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill

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.