UPDATE The #1470 from Yellow Jacket Camp to the Rocky Rim Trail #1572 was restored by the Siskiyou Mountain Club during July and August, 2021.
The Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail (#1470) runs, as its name suggests, for some 30 miles between Huckleberry Gap and Three Lakes along the divide between the Umpqua and Rogue River watersheds. The Forest Service describes it as the primary route through the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. We’ve spent the last five years hiking almost all of it in sections. By doing so, we got to experience the #1470 directly and also ponder the future of our trails that aren’t social media darlings. So here are some thoughts about the #1470 as a whole, with particular emphasis on where the Service’s sometimes overly hopeful descriptions of it depart from its reality. But let’s be clear here: this is a personal reminiscence, not a guidebook and should not be relied on as such. Just saying…
In May of 2015, we did a loop hike through Buck Canyon, the only part of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness that sits on the east side of the divide. We came in from Muir Creek and left via Meadow Creek, passing Wiley Camp along the way. I got to wondering if you could loop around Fish Mountain from the Wiley Camp Trailhead and today I decided to find out (The LovedOne opted for a library board meeting instead).
In 2015, I did two dayhikes in Oregon’s Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness (details): an out-and-back on the Rogue-Umpqua Divide (USFS #1470) and Rocky Rim (USFS #1572) Trails (post) and a loop hike around Fish Lake (post) on the Rocky Rim, Rogue-Umpqua Divide, and Fish Lake (USFS #1570) trails. Highrock Mountain (6,195 feet / 1,888 m) is a prominent feature visible from various points on all of these trails. While not the highest point in this wilderness (that honor belongs to Fish Mountain, at 6,789 feet (2,069 m), about 4 miles to the northeast), it stands out from other peaks in the area because of its hulking rockiness and nearly treeless summit.
The Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness is a sliver of land that runs roughly north to south just west of Crater Lake National Park on the west side of the divide (the divide’s east side is national forest land beset with Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trails). Like a lot of the smaller and less well know wilderness areas, some spots (Abbott Butte, Fish Lake) are very popular while the rest only rarely feel the hiker’s boot. We began exploring this wilderness earlier this year with hikes along Muir Creek in the north and to Abbott Butte in the south. Unfortunately, the National Creek Complex fire poured heavy smoke into this area and, for a time, closed Highway 230 and access to all the eastern trailheads. With the fire now contained (but still burning within that containment), the highway again open, and the smoke mostly cleared, now seemed like a good time to visit the Hershberger Mountain Lookout and some of the trails north of there. These are Hikes #9 and #30 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (3rd Edition). Update: This area was burned by the 2017 TL Pup 316 Fire (one of the High Cascade Complex Fires).