The Rogue River Trail, which goes from Grave Creek to Foster Bar, is, for most people, the only hiking trail along the Rogue River. It’s local and national (international?) popularity vastly over-shadows that of the Upper Rogue River Trail #1034, which runs for ~47 miles from the Crater Rim (or Mazama) Viewpoint to Prospect, Oregon. It’s fair to say that, overall, the Upper trail isn’t as aesthetic as the Rogue River Trail or the Wild Rogue Loop but there are sections that are interesting and unique. The Upper is readily amenable to being hiked in sections – which is what we did.
We started our hike to Natural Bridge at the Big Bend Trailhead on Forest Road 6510, one mile west of Highway 230. Fortunately, it’s signed!
We followed the trail as it climbed abruptly up into the forest,
where it stays for about 3.5 miles, with only occasional glimpses of the river.
But there are some seriously large trees to hug,
and an old wooden water tank to consider (across the river from Farewell Bend Campground),
and then we continued on down to the river.
The unique features along this section of the #1034 are where the river has been channeled into collapsed lava tubes.
This was a great spot for lunch!
And then it was back into the trees,
before coming back to the river at one of its quiet reaches, followed by a very, very COLD fording of Flat Creek, one of the Rogue’s bridgeless tributaries.
Then one of the few trailside flowers (with guest) at this time of year,
another quiet reach,
and then another torrent along an open lava tube.
There are two bridges over the Rogue River in this area – a footbridge north of Natural Bridge and Natural Bridge itself – where the river flows underneath an un-collapsed lava tube. Because the Natural Bridge Recreational Site isn’t open yet and we didn’t want to leave our shuttle car along Highway 230, we opted to park it at the Union Creek Wayside about one mile north of atural Bridge. So we crossed the first footbridge,
and hiked upstream along the east bank of the Rogue, thus missing the Natural Bridge itself.
A fun section (7 miles; no elevation gain) of the Upper trail with a mix of forest, riverside meadow, and raging lava tubes – fun! We had plans to stop at Beckie’s Cafe in Union Creek for a piece of homemade pie but the place was mobbed so we headed home so the LovedOne could make us our own homemade pie!