Category Archives: Southern Oregon

Wild Rogue Loop Backpack 20/22-Jun-2017

Wild Rogue Loop Trail Rogue River Oregon

Oregon’s Rogue River flows some 215 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs within Crater Lake National Park to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. Although not as large as the Columbia or the Willamette, it is nonetheless one of Oregon’s iconic rivers.  It’s been in our hearts for years but only recently have we had the time to give it the attention it deserves. Between 2012 and 2016, we hiked (in sections) the entire Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) as it roughly parallels the river from near Boundary Springs to Prospect, Oregon.  In 2015, we backpacked the famous Rogue River Trail (USFS #1160) from Grave Creek and Foster Bar (post) and also did a rafting day trip from Robertson Bridge to Grave Creek.  In 2016, we bolstered the local economy again with a multi-day rafting trip on the Wild and Scenic Rogue from Grave Creek and Foster Bar (post).  After attending a presentation earlier this year by Gabriel Howe of the Siskiyou Mountain Club on their 2015 restoration of the Wild Rogue Loop, we knew we had to hike it.  With lingering snow keeping us from the High Cascades and parts of the Siskiyou Crest, now seemed like just the time to do this lower-altitude loop.

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A Hop to Rabbit Lake (Siskiyous) 18-Jun-2017

Rabbit Lake Siskiyou Crest Oregon

The trail up Kerby Peak from the White Creek Trailhead is steep and challenging but well graded and rewards your efforts with wonderful views of the Illinois Valley, the Siskiyou Crest, and beyond.  We’ve hiked it before (post) and even tried (unsuccessfully) to summit it in winter (post). But, while contemplating the map for another hike of Kerby, I saw a small lake – Rabbit Lake – just below the ridge running south from the peak.  Lakes are a rarity in the Siskiyous so checking-it out quickly took precedence over yet another hike of Kerby.  I found a description of the use trail to Rabbit on the Highway 199 website and the short out-and-back hike discussed there seemed ideal for what was going to be (finally) a sizzling hot day in Southern Oregon.

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Sterling Mine Ditch to Grub Gulch 16-Jun-2017

Sterling Mine Ditch Trail Oregon

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail – despite its somewhat industrial name – is one of the most popular and most publicized trails in Southern Oregon. It’s open year-round, is accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, and features wildflowers in the Spring and colorful foliage in the Fall. The original 26 mile long “ditch” was constructed by hand in 1877 to convey water from the Little Applegate River to a huge hydraulic mine in the upper reaches of the Sterling Creek drainage. The mine and the town it spawned (Sterlingville) are now gone but the ditch remains. Thanks to the efforts of the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 18 miles of the ditch have been reclaimed as a valuable recreational resource.  Since 2013, we have been able to hike (more than once) all parts of the trail with one exception: the segment between the Deming Gulch and Grub Gulch Trailheads.  Yesterday, I (the LovedOne being too consumed by a backlog of fiber and gardening projects to join me) set out to remedy this omission.

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Desecration on Lower Table Rock 14-Jun-2017

Lower Table Rock Oregon

It pains us deeply to have to make this post but to leave what we found today unremarked would be a crime in its own right.

The Table Rocks – both Lower and Upper – have been favorite year-round short hike destinations for us ever since we moved south.  One of the many pleasures of these hikes is to observe the seasonal round of the vernal pools that are unique to these locations. These pools are a rare habitat that supports a Federally-listed threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state-threatened plant called the dwarf wooly meadowfoam, a flowering plant currently, and historically, only known to exist around the edges of these pools.  The existence of these rare species and their habitat is what caused the Table Rocks to be designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

During a hike today on Lower Table Rock, the LovedOne and I noticed what looked like posts off to the left of the trail about halfway to the South Viewpoint.  On closer inspection, these proved to be rocks stacked into spires or cairns between a foot and four feet tall and placed all over what used to be one of the largest vernal pools.  There were also stacks and rock walls built in the remains of the smaller vernal pool to the south.

Lower Table Rocks Medford Oregon

Constructed rock cairns desecrating rare vernal pool habitat

Lower Table Rocks Medford Oregon

Construction of the cairns trampled the vernal pool habitat

Lower Table Rocks Medford Oregon

Close-up of the rock cairns and the trampled habitat

Whoever made these abominations had dug the rocks out of the pools and, in the process, had destroyed the pool bottoms, which the plants and animals, found nowhere else but here, need to survive during the dry summer months.  Aside from selfishness and stupidity, we have no idea what motivated the cretinous vandals who unleashed this destruction nor do we care, as there is simply no justification, whatsoever, for this wanton desecration of these rare and unique natural features.

We’ve reached out to both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and The Nature Conservancy – as they manage different parts of the Table Rocks – about this situation and we hope that they will follow-up on the federal and state crimes committed here.  Whether restoration is an option, or whether the destruction has just been too great, remains to be seen.

In the end, to have come upon something like this in a place we’ve come to cherish, is sad and disheartening almost beyond imagining.



Fun with Ticks on the Upper Rogue River 26-May-2017

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

Oregon’s Rogue River flows, from its headwaters at Boundary Springs within Crater Lake National Park, generally westward for 215 miles to the Pacific Ocean near Gold Beach, Oregon. Hiking trails follow the river for approximately 100 miles.  One of these, the Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034), roughly parallels the river for about 47 miles from near Boundary Springs to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside of Prospect, Oregon.  It can be hiked in sections (USFS Guide).  We hiked our first section, the northern-most, in 2012 and completed the southern-most section in 2016.  Done and done, except for the possibility (per Sullivan) that there was a path from the North Fork Dam Recreation Area to the Peyton Bridge Trailhead at Lost Creek Lake.  This would allow one to link the true Upper Rogue River Trail (#1034) with the “Rogue River Trail” that goes around the north and south shores of Lost Creek Lake and ends at Casey State Park.  We conveniently ignored that “except” until the nagging malaise of incompleteness was too much to bear.  So we dragged ourselves off the sofa and went out yesterday to finish the hike…

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Mill Creek Falls (Oregon) 12-May-2017

Mill Creek Falls Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

Well, after three gloriously warm and sunny days, we were pitched yet again into the damp gloom of either a late winter or an early spring, but certainly not an early summer.  One of the old jokes about Oregon is that summer doesn’t really start until the 4th of July and this year that might not be a joke (if it ever was).  But, on the upside, all this sky water has made our local waterfalls really, really energetic.  So, rather than lament our moist meteorological fate, we decided to explore part of the trail connecting the Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) with Lost Creek Lake and simultaneously visit two local waterfalls – 173-foot Mill Creek Falls and 240-foot Barr Creek Falls – conveniently located within a quarter mile of one another.

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Parsnip Lakes (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 09-May-2017

Parsnip Lakes Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Oregon

The Parsnip Lakes, located within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, are a series of water bodies formed by natural springs and wetlands, and partially maintained by beavers. The Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa), a species in steep decline throughout its historic range, was seen here again in 2003, after having been unobserved for some 40 years.  It was recently listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. These lakes lie just to the east of Hobart Bluff, a popular local hiking destination along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  I first saw them on the map when we were planning our March 2017 snowshoe hike along the PCT to the Bluff (post) and that got me to wondering if the lakes were hikeable.  These musings lead me to a 2011 post of a hiking loop past the lakes and the Bluff, so I sketched  out a similar route and waited for the snow to melt.

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