Walking the Rogue I: Grave Creek to Black Bar Lodge 12-May-2021

The Rogue River and the Rogue River Trail are iconic features here in Southwestern Oregon. Our first close contact with the Rogue River was when we hiked to its source at Boundary Springs in 2012. We backpacked the Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Foster Bar in 2015 and then rafted the river from Morrison’s Lodge to Foster Bar in 2016. We backpacked the Wild Rogue Loop in 2017 and, by 2018, had hiked all of the hikeable trails adjacent to the Rogue River between Boundary Springs and Gold Beach. We love the Rogue but other hikes beckoned. So we made some plans. Then the Big V threw all our hopes and wants and plans out time’s window. 😥

Long, long story short, we ended-up on a raft supported, lodge-to-lodge hiking trip on the Rogue River Trail offered by Momentum River Expeditions. Although we’d done the Yosemite High Sierra Camps in 2015, staying in lodges seemed a bit luxe for us. But the virus had spoken, so we found ourselves meeting-up at Galice Resort, on a very nice sunny day, with our guides – Glen and Sarah – and six other guests.

Glen (trip leader)
Sarah

After a rapid COVID test (all negative 🙂 ), we were driven to the start of the hike at Grave Creek. The routine was for us to hike the trail unescorted, with Sarah going ahead with our gear and Glen following along in the river (we stayed in touch with Glen via small two-way radios). We would meet the rafts at a designated place along the river each day for lunch and then meet-up again at that day’s lodge.

Glen explains the COVID test as Bret and Lisa look on
Gathered at Grave Creek: (1) The LovedOne, (2) Bret, (3) Glen, (4) Brenda, (5) Sarah, (6) Barb, (7) Sue, (8) Curtis, (9) Lisa

The trail as far as Whisky Creek is familiar ground for us, as we try to visit Kitty Mack and the old cabin there at least once a year. But after that, we were on portions of the trail that we hadn’t seen in six years. We were very pleased to find it still in good shape, easy to follow, and as scenic as ever. Overall, the trail was a lot drier than it had been just a few weeks ago – testament to the drought that is gripping our area. Despite this, a few not-seen-yet-this-season wildflowers had found the wherewithal to bloom and thus enliven the hike. 🙂

Grave Creek Rapids from the trail
Common Monkeyflower
On the trail near the 1964 high water sign below Sandersons Island
Glen rows past the pier from the trail bridge destroyed by a flood in 1927
Toward Rainie Falls

Having just been there, we didn’t stop at the Whisky Creek Cabin but pushed on toward our lunch meet-up below Tyee Rapids.

Tyee Rapids from the trail
Elegant Brodeaia
On the trail past Russian Creek after lunch
An old dredge barge, washed down in the 1955 flood, rests below Slim Pickens Rapid
A rafting trip (not ours) goes through Windy Creek Chute
Bunker Creek – where we camped on the first night of our 2015 backpacking trip
On to Black Bar

Not far past Bunker Creek, a side trail descends to the river across from Black Bar Lodge. Glen met us there and ferried us across in his raft. Unless you swim (not advised), this is the only way to reach the lodge from the trail.

The ferry crossing (arrow) from the trail to Black Bar Lodge

At Black Bar, there is a main lodge, several cabins, and a separate kitchen/common room building. Our group occupied the kitchen building and four of the adjacent cabins. Our accommodations at Black Bar were simple but clean and comfortable. After 9.6 miles (15.4 km) on a hot (85°F / 29°C), sweaty day, the hot showers were a big hit!

Our cabin at the lodge
The interior of our cabin – we were fascinated by the floor tile

Glen and Sarah cooked dinner for us with food they’d brought with them and we ate outside on the deck. This was the only time (other than lunch) that our guides would do kitchen duty. The other lodges would provide the food (dinner and breakfast) and also cook it. We were beginning to see the attraction of lodge-to-lodge hiking. Ah, the path to decadence is likely paved with hot water and clean sheets and someone else doing the cooking… 😮

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4 comments

  1. How fun!! We’ve hiked parts of the trail and always talked about doing the lodge-to-lodge hike. But now we’re soooo far away….looking forward to following along with you.

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  2. It is a classic hike – whether you do all of it or just sections. My favorite section is between Marial and Paradise Lodge past the Brushy Bar Cabin.

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