The Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) is a National Recreation Trail that closely follows the Rogue River for about 47 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park to to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside Prospect, Oregon. The trail can be day hiked in sections between readily accessible trailheads. Today I finished another section – from Foster Creek to Hamaker Campground, going from south to north to accommodate a hike & bike approach. The LovedOne had a doctor’s appointment plus she was concerned that this section would be the same unmaintained mess as was the Foster Creek to Big Bend section (post), so I was on my own for this one.
I turned east off Highway 230 on to Forest Road 6530 (mostly paved, with two short gravel sections) and followed it (past the turn for National Creek Falls) for about six miles to FR 6530-810 (all gravel), where I turned left (north) for about two miles to where it intersects the east side of Hamaker Meadow across the Rogue River from Hamaker Campground. I hid the bike there and then drove back down to the junction of FR 6530 and FR 6535 where there was room to park. From there, it was a short walk down to where the Upper Rogue River trail crosses FR 6530 just on the east side of the river bridge. Signage isn’t abundant anywhere along this trail, so there was only a tiny trail sign at this crossing.
As noted, the Foster Creek to Big Bend section had been a struggle and we’d heard that this section was similarly maintenance challenged. The sign posted at the crossing didn’t do much to ease my concerns about this.
The whole way up to Hamaker, I fully expected to turn the next corner only to find the trail covered with fallen trees as far as you could see into the distance. But that proved to be just needless anxiety. Instead, I found that, while there were some downed trees and sketchy stretches, this section of trail was generally in good condition (it got very good within the last two miles or so of Hamaker) and very easy to follow.
When Mount Mazama (today’s Crater Lake) blew up 7,000 years ago, it deposited a thick layer of ash far and wide (we saw some along the Snake River, over 200 miles to the northeast). The Rogue River then proceeded to cut through that layer, exposing tall embankments of white ash.
A mile from FR 6530, I crossed National Creek on an improvised log bridge,
and then had to make a sharp left (west) turn to stay on the #1034. If you follow a use trail straight north, you’ll come to an Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) trail that runs back up to FR 6530. For the next four miles, the trail runs along close to the river, which allowed me to see some rapids that are not visible from Highway 238 on the west bank.
The trail was pretty clear of obstacles but every once in a while I’d have to deal with a fairly big one by either going around, over, or under it.
The trail continued rambling north along the river, generally climbing very gradually.
But it does have to make a couple of switchback mediated climbs to get around the huge ash cliffs on the east side of the river. The first of these is about three miles from FR 6530 and the view down these very loose cliffs is one of the unique features along this section of the #1034.
At four miles from FR 6530, there is a small waterfall (shown on the USGS map) where the trail (and the river) make a sharp bend back to the southeast. The three people I saw all day where here, having waded across the Rogue a little further upstream to go fishing.
After the Falls, the river and trail turn east, passing through a marshy area,
and some open meadow areas.
About 5.5 miles from FR 6530, the trail once again climbs up to the top of the ash cliffs along the river and goes along almost level for some distance.
From here, I got another of those dizzying views down the crumbling white ash to the river,
and of just how easily that ash can be eroded.
About 6.5 miles from FR 6530, the trail crosses Hurryon Creek – I crossed on a convenient fallen log but it’s obvious from the steps in the embankment that a small bridge once stood here.
Shortly after crossing Hurryon Creek, the trail and the Rogue swing northeast away from Highway 230 (and away from its traffic noise). This is also at the confluence of the Rogue River and Muir Creek, with the creek looking like a larger body of water than the now somewhat diminished river. The trail passes through several stretches of lush riparian vegetation,
before heading a little inland across two sagging footbridges over unnamed side streams,
and on through the forest. This last mile or so seems to have received some recent maintenance (as evidenced by fresh cut fallen trees) and was very easy walking.
Shortly after that, I came to the huge (newish, 2002) horse bridge that takes you across the Rogue River to Hamaker Campground,
and then turned east into Hamaker Meadow to where I’d hidden the bike.
It was an awkward 1.5 mile climb on loose gravel back to FR 6530 but then a great downhill glide on that surveyor-straight paved road back to the car.
A good, fun hike (8.9 miles; 800 feet elevation gain hiking | 5.3 miles biking) along yet another pretty section of the Upper Rogue on a trail that was in vastly better condition than expected. A stop at Beckie’s in Union Creek for take-home slices of pie rounded out a perfect day in the woods.