Rogue River Trail (Wild Rogue Wilderness) 27/30-Apr-2015

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VanMarmot
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Rogue River Trail (Wild Rogue Wilderness) 27/30-Apr-2015

Post by VanMarmot » May 1st, 2015, 8:54 am

There are numerous good hikes in Southern Oregon but the premier hike – and probably the best known – is the Rogue River National Recreation Trail from Grave Creek to Foster Bar.

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It’s been on our “to do” list for a long time and when we saw four days of mostly good weather in the forecast, we went for it. Descriptions of how to access the trail and what’s along it are numerous – we found the BLM’s detailed trail log (Rogue River BLM) to be reasonably accurate and helpful. We arranged with Rogue Wilderness Adventures (Merlin, OR) to drop us at the Grave Creek TH, store our truck on their lot, and then shuttle it around to Foster Bar when we came off the trail – they did a great job and it was well worth it to not have to worry about having our car clouted.

DAY 1: GRAVE CK to BUNKER CK (8.9 mi, 600’ EG)
From the nearly deserted TH (this will change soon, as the season starts May 1st),

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we headed W above the river under a clear sky with the air temperature heading toward the low 80s.

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The trail is fascinating in that you can be sweating on an exposed rocky slope one minute and then cooling off in a nice forest the next.

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This section of the trail gave us good views of the Rogue most of the time,

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including (at trail mile (TM) 6.9) a tank from a dredge that had been washed downstream in the 1955 flood,

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and two rafts and an inflatable kayak (arrows) that were running the river ahead of the May 15th permit season.

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We camped for the night at Bunker Creek (TM 9.1) at a nice site next to the creek,

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where we used the amazingly robust pedestrian bridge to hang our food.

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With moonrise and the Loved One's startling - but uneventful - encounter with a rattlesnake, it was time to call it a day.

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DAY 2: BUNKER CK to MULE CK WEST (14.6 mi, 2100’ EG)
We started under warm and sunny skies but a trough was expected to come onshore in the afternoon, so we knew these bluebird conditions wouldn’t last (sigh).

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So on past the Black Bar Lodge at TM 9.6,

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and a truly huge and twisted madrone,

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to Meadow Creek (TM 13.6, nice campsites),

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with its view of (and access to) the river.

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We then traversed some huge, open meadows

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before reaching Winkle Bar (TM 17.5), the site of Zane Gray’s cabin, which he used for fishing and writing between 1926 and 1935.

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Our plan was to camp at Quail Creek (TM 19.4) but by the time we got there, the weather had turned, clouds were moving in, and the wind was rising. The site by the river was totally exposed to the wind, as was the unofficial site up on the ridge at one end of the long-abandoned Kelsey Pack Trail. So after observing some wildlife,

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we pushed on to the Rogue River Ranch. This 4 mi stretch of the trail is all well above the river

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and has no – as far as we could see – decent camping opportunities, so we were committed to make the Ranch. Which we did, which was still closed for the season.

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Our goal was the Mule Creek (west) campsite (TM 23.0) which we lucked on to (there’s NO signage) by spotting the top of the new BLM toilet! Apparently the site is very popular with boaters but it would be easy for a hiker to miss it. By the time we got there late in the day, the wind had died down a lot and it was pretty nice camping right on the river.

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DAY 3: MULE CK WEST to BRUSHY BAR (7.3 mi, 600’ EG)
The next morning, we were awakened by three families of geese who seemed peeved that we were camped on their take-out spot.

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After a very leisurely start in clear and warming weather, we climbed back on to the Marial Lodge road,

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hiked past the old Mule Creek Guard Station (TM 24.4),

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and out to an overlook of the narrowest part of the river.

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We continued W past Stair Creek Falls (TM 25.6)

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to Blossom Bar (TM 27.1, nice campsites),

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through an oak woodland,

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to the huge meadow at Paradise Bar Lodge (TM 28.3),

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and then out along the trail above the river,

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where we could look down and see the Lodge’s boat heading back to Foster Bar.

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After yesterday’s push to reach the Rogue River Ranch, we decided to make it a short day. So, after checking-out the still functioning Brushy Bar Guard Station,

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we continued on a bit to camp at Brushy Bar Creek – a nice site with a toilet and a bear box.

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DAY 4: BRUSHY BAR to FOSTER BAR (9.5 mi, 500’ EG)
We got an earlier start today,

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and headed W through the forest,

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to Tate Creek Falls (TM 32.9),

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across steep slopes above the river rich with flowers -

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and a bear ( :o ) -

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past Clay Hill Lodge (TM 33.2) to Flora Dell Creek Falls (TM 34.8).

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After that there was some surprising up and down before we emerged on to the open fields below Illahe Lodge (TM 39.0),

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and shortly thereafter arrived at the TH, which was surprisingly devoid of any signage marking it as the TH of a National Recreation trail – quite the opposite of what we’d found at the Grave Ck TH.

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We did find an old sign where the dirt road from the TH hits the paved road but it seems to us that a trail like this deserves some newer and better signage! This one seriously pre-dates the Recreation Trail.

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After that it was along the road to Foster Bar,

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and the end of a great backpack!! One of the all-time classics! :D

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We then headed home via the Bear Camp Coastal Route – which opened early this year due to the lack of snow (or punishing rains that could have washed-out key sections) – but not before stopping at the Old Agness Store for cold drinks. All told, 40.3 mi and 3800’ EG. Now we want to raft the river so we can look up at the trail as we bloat & float our way downstream!

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Last edited by VanMarmot on February 4th, 2018, 9:18 am, edited 3 times in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: Rogue River National Recreation Trail 27/30-Apr-2015

Post by retired jerry » May 1st, 2015, 9:09 am

yeah, a great trail, although I've never been there this late in the season

yeah, that bridge seems over-built. Clever to hang your food from it. I'll have to consider that for future bear hangs.

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VanMarmot
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Re: Rogue River National Recreation Trail 27/30-Apr-2015

Post by VanMarmot » May 1st, 2015, 1:27 pm

retired jerry wrote:yeah, a great trail, although I've never been there this late in the season

yeah, that bridge seems over-built. Clever to hang your food from it. I'll have to consider that for future bear hangs.
"Late in the season"? For some reason I thought you usually did this trail in the Fall?

This bridge was installed in 2011 and is by far the most robust on the trail. There are a couple of older bridges based on 24" gluelam beams and one wonders how they got all these heavy beams into the canyon and into place?

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retired jerry
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Re: Rogue River National Recreation Trail 27/30-Apr-2015

Post by retired jerry » May 1st, 2015, 2:55 pm

January is a good time :)

I think it was that crossing that was some huge logs, that finally rotted and split in the middle. Then, for a couple years, you had to cross right next to the stream, which was a bit tricky. Then they put that bridge in. That should be good for decades. That's not a bad strategy, to put in bridges that are maybe over engineered but will last for a long time so you don't have to keep spending money on it.

mitch
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Joined: July 16th, 2011, 1:20 pm

Re: Rogue River National Recreation Trail 27/30-Apr-2015

Post by mitch » May 2nd, 2015, 1:48 pm

I love this trail. This is a great time of year to do it. Thanks for sharing. I think I saw a bear in the exact same place a few years ago.

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