Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail ~ Southwest Oregon (October 2020)

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…

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Donegan Prairie (Umpqua National Forest) 25-Sep-2019

I first came across this short hike in John & Diane Cissel’s Old Growth Forest Hikes (2003) and then found it listed as the Donegan Prairie Trail #1431 on the Umpqua National Forest’s website. It provides access to large meadows (full of wildflowers in season), a rare dry meadow community, and large stands of 300-400 year-old trees. Unfortunately, the website said it was presently closed due to fire damage. Well, I had to see for myself what “damage” entailed (The LovedOne, sensing a possibly painful adventure, opted to have her hair done instead).

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Cow Creek Old-Growth (Azalea, Oregon) 30-Mar-2018

Cow Creek Umpqua National Forest Oregon

Cow Creek is a major tributary to Oregon’s South Umpqua River and an important stream in Southern Oregon’s early history. Levi Scott and Jesse Applegate, who pioneered the southern wagon route into Oregon, named the creek in 1846 when they found a dead cow beside it (no grasping for literary allusions with these guys). The six mile-long Cow Creek Trail (USFS #1424) follows the upper reaches of the South Fork of Cow Creek through a herb-rich floodplain stocked with mature and old (500+ years in some cases) Douglas fir and other trees. It ends at Railroad Gap near the divide that defines the watersheds of the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers. With The LovedOne still nursing her knee (and catching-up on her library duties), it fell to me to explore this old-growth trail (see what Cow Creek looks like in the summer here).

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Tenas Peak (Mount Thielsen Wilderness) 14-Aug-2016

Tenas Peak Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Tenas Peak (6,558 feet) is an ancient cinder cone that sits just west of the Cascade Crest on the northern boundary of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness (details).  The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a short distance to the east and Cowhorn Mountain (also called Cowhorn Butte by some), a somewhat better known hike and short scramble, lies a few miles to the north (post).  What drew my attention to Tenas was a write-up about it by Oregon Wild (post), presumably to build interest in either expanding the Thielsen wilderness or creating a larger Crater Lake wilderness (details).  It sounded like an interesting loop hike in an area I hadn’t visited before (it’s off the Windigo Pass road as is Cowhorn Mountain, but sooner). The clincher was that Tenas used to host a Forest Service fire lookout and supposedly has excellent views (yes, but not in all directions).

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Mount Bailey (Umpqua National Forest) 28-May-2015

Mount Bailey Umpqua National Forest Oregon

Diamond Lake (north of Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon) is bracketed to the east by Mount Thielsen and to the west by Mount Bailey (8,368 feet). I’d been up Mount Thielsen before but Mount Bailey was still on the never diminishing list of hikes to do and I wanted to hike it while there was some snow to add character to the climb. So, with large patches of snow still lingering above 7,000 feet, and a favorable (non-electrifying) thunderstorm forecast, off I went up Highway 62 to Diamond Lake.

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