Remembrance of Trails Past (November 2020)

A while back, I found a charming little hiking guide from 1969 that the Rogue National Forest had assembled for the area around Union Creek on the Upper Rogue River. Most, but not all, of the listed trails were short and went to a lake or creek or something scenic. Nothing epic that would dissuade people from getting out of their cars for a brief hike in the woods. Possibly this was an odder activity then than it is now? Anyway, I recognized some but not all of the listed trails. And of the ones I did recognize, the guide’s description sometimes didn’t tally with what we’ve found during hikes on or near them in recent years.

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Rogue Gorge Trail (Union Creek, Oregon) 15-Nov-2018

We hiked our first Rogue River-related trail (to Boundary Springs) in 2012. Over the next six years, we hiked all of the other river-related trails between the springs and the ocean, culminating (we thought) with the Lower Rogue River Trail this year. Having thus declared victory, we were chagrined :/  to find we’d missed one. Map-gazing revealed the Rogue Gorge Trail (USFS #1034A), which links the Rogue Gorge Viewpoint to the north with the Natural Bridge Viewpoint to the south. This slight required remedy! >:D So, taking advantage of the excellent autumn hiking weather (which needs to give way soon to rain and snow), we started at the #1034A’s north end and wound our way along the river, past several placid sections, to where it’s waters are noisily constricted into a basalt channel above a footbridge. We continued on to the Natural Bridge Viewpoint, checked-out the lava tube, and then made our way north on the #1034 to the footbridge and crossed over to the #1034A. Here the thought of pie overwhelmed us and we left the trail to make a beeline on back roads (which serve the riverside cabins) directly to the Beckies Café. Once there, we declared victory (again) with lunch and pie! 😀

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Union Creek Trail (Union Creek, Oregon) 06-Nov-2018

No better place to wait out the end of the seemingly endless 2018 Midterm election cycle than on a hike. With The LovedOne temporarily liberated from the Palace of Cellulose (i.e., the library), we set out to hike one of the smaller trails we’d by-passed on our many trips to the Upper Rogue. Of course, pie at Beckie’s Cafe on our return was a major motivating factor.  The Union Creek Trail (USFS #1035) runs from Highway 62 at the Union Creek Resort upstream along Union Creek – a minor tributary of the Rogue River – for about four miles to an upper trailhead just off of Highway 62. The selling points for this hike were the creek’s varied riparian habitats, the stands of immense old-growth Douglas-firs through which the trail passes, and Union Creek Falls near the upper trailhead. The Forest Service’s website, while extolling the beauty of the creek (they were right about that) was suspiciously silent with regards the trail’s condition. We would be left to discover conditions for ourselves.  Much fun ensued…

The day was crisp, but clear and sunny, as we parked at the Union Creek Rest Area, dashed across Highway 62 like dithering squirrels, and made our way to the #1035’s start behind Cabin #21 (no relation to Area 51) at the Union Creek Resort.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Cabin #21
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
At the trailhead

The height of the Fall color had passed and most of it was now on the trail.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
The Fall color has fallen

But there were plenty of huge, old-growth trees to keep us in awe.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
One of the smaller ones – “only” 5 feet in diameter!
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Along the trail
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek

A mile in, we came to a massive new bridge spanning the creek. This now allows for an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) route around the resort. Up to here, the trail had been pretty good but it now began a slow deterioration due to an obvious lack of maintenance.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
The trail starts to falter
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek

And there were still plenty of big, big old trees needing a hug.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Easily 8 feet in diameter!

But the farther upstream we went, the more the ferns encroached on the trail. We had to push or stomp our way through them, looking for the tread underneath. There were fallen trees of different sizes too. It wasn’t like trying to work through buckbrush but it was tedious, slow, and a bit tiring.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Fighting the ferns
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
The ferns may be winning

It’s too bad that the trail is in such poor shape because Union Creek is a really pretty little creek to walk along.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek

About 3 miles from the parking lot, after much fern-thrashing, we came to a signed junction with the Old-Growth Trail which, judging from how high up the signage and the blue blazers are, is a nordic trail. This is apparently an alternative way back to the resort, one that stays away from the creek. We kept it in mind for our return. We continued upstream on the #1035 and almost immediately ran into a confusing mass of downed trees of different sizes, followed by more ferns. Some navigation was necessary.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
The brush put up a good fight

Finally, about 3.5 miles in, trail conditions improved markedly and we were soon zooming (relatively speaking) upstream on forest duff without having to fight any vegetation. We passed the Tammy Kay Johnson Memorial at a nice spot where Union Creek funnels through a breach in the basalt,

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Memorial
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek at the memorial
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek

continued on past an unnamed falls where the creek makes a constricted and dramatic plunge of some eight feet between walls of basalt,

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
8-Foot Falls

to Union Creek Falls, a 10-foot high cascade spanning the creek.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek Falls
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Union Creek Falls

Upstream we found another constricted cascade and another memorial.

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
More of Union Creek Falls
Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Memorial

We ate a late lunch at the falls, all of that fern-bashing having taken more time than expected. Now we had a decision to make – go back along the #1035 and maybe the Old-Growth Trail or not? Fighting our way back along the #1035 didn’t appeal – and it was slow – and we couldn’t be sure the Old-Growth Trail would be any better. The day was waning and the pie was waiting, so we went on to the #1035’s upper trailhead [judging from the width of the trail here, this is how most people get to the falls] and hiked west along OHV Road #42 (you need the Prospect OHV Trail System map to know this leads back to the resort),

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Along OHV #42

to its junction with OHV #31 & #35,

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
At the OHV junction

then followed OHV #31 over to the #1035 where it passes that big new bridge and then took the trail back to the cafe for the now long anticipated pie. 😀 ❤

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Cherry 3.14159265359….

Our loop ended-up being 8.8 miles, with only 700 feet of elevation gain and would have been delightfully easy had the trail been clear. The Union Creek Trail follows along a beautiful creek through an amazing forest of massive old-growth trees to a nice collection of cascades and falls. The only thing wrong with it is a lack of maintenance. The Forest Service supposedly has made it a priority for refurbishment and was planning to get to it this year. We suspect all of the wildfire activity this season absorbed most of their resources and budget.  Here’s hoping they get to it in 2019!

Union Creek Trail Upper Rogue River Oregon
Our loop hike along Union Creek
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Wiley Camp Loop (Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness) 11-Sep-2018

Wiley Camp Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon

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). It was a crisp, cool almost-Fall day for hiking. A change in the weather (and much firefighting) had reduced the smoke a lot but had also brought in a cloud cover. This made for a glaringly reflective sky that wasn’t conducive to photos but was still way better than being smoked.  Further scouring of smoke and a few sunbreaks later in the day would reinvigorate memories of what hiking in clear air is like (since it’s been awhile).

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Cowhorn Mountain (Deschutes NF) 05-Oct-2017

Cowhorn Mountain Deschutes National Forest Oregon

First off, it seems useful to review where we are here.  This is not the Little Cowhorn Mountain topped with a lookout and located on the Willamette National Forest at the end of a one mile trail. This Cowhorn – what some also, for extra confusion, call Cowhorn Butte – is on the Deschutes National Forest (in the Oregon Cascades Recreational Area) a few miles southwest of Crescent Lake.  Back before this Cowhorn’s cow-horn shaped summit spine fell over in a 1911 storm (some storm!), it was called Little Cowhorn to distinguish it from Mount Thielsen, which was then called Big Cowhorn.  The hike to this Cowhorn Mountain’s 7,664-foot summit is along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) starting north from Windigo Pass, which is reached via Forest Road (FR) 60 (a good gravel road) off State Highway 138 about six miles north of Diamond Lake.

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Tipsoo Peak on Snow (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 06-Jul-2017

Tipsoo Peak Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Tipsoo Peak (8,034) is one of the few 8000-foot Cascade volcanos (it ties for #38 in terms of elevation) with a well-graded trail to its summit. Located in Oregon’s Mount Thielsen Wilderness, it is an easy hike to spectacular 360º views, including Howlock Mountain, Mount Thielsen, Mount Bailey, Diamond Peak, the Three Sisters, and Diamond, Miller, and Maidu Lakes.  Directly south of its summit is the highest point (7,560 feet) on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Oregon and Washington.  We decided to do a quick hike to its summit to: (a) take in the views on what was to be a full bluebird day, (b) check-out snow levels along the PCT, and (c) generate an excuse to stop at Beckie’s Cafe in Union Creek for some of their delicious pie (because hiking is hard and you need to stay fueled!).

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Discovery Point Snowshoe (Crater Lake NP) 08-May-2017

Crater Lake National Park Oregon

We live about an hour and a half from Crater Lake National Park and, while we’ve visited several times, we don’t get to it (or at least the Rim) as often as we should. Too busy with tourists in the summer months; too challenged by snow and weather in the winter months. A little touch of guilt here – particularly now that there’s talk of privatizing National Parks and abolishing National Monuments (so sad, so stupid). So, yesterday, with The LovedOne mostly recovered from a bout of bronchitis, we went for a short – but amazing – snowshoe hike to Discovery Point on the lake’s west rim.

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Upper Rogue River Trail (River Bridge to North Fork Dam) 27-Sep-2016

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

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 the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside Prospect, Oregon.  The trail can be day hiked in sections between readily accessible trailheads.  Today we finished the last section – from River Bridge Campground to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area – of our effort to hike the entire length of the #1034, section by section.  As with a previous section, we again went from south to north to accommodate a hike & bike approach.

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Upper Rogue River Trail (Hamaker Campground to Foster Creek) 16-Sep-2016

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

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.

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Upper Rogue River Trail (Foster Creek to Big Bend) 07-May-2016

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

This section of the #1034 was in poor shape in 2016 and recent reports say that it’s still a wreck. Expect slow-going and navigation challenges.

The Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) follows the Rogue River for about 47 miles from near its headwaters at Boundary Springs in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside of Prospect, Oregon. The trail can be day hiked in sections between readily accessible trailheads.  Today we did the short (~7 mile) Foster Creek to Big Bend section and allowed for slow going due to winter storm damage and limited trail maintenance.

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