Boundary Springs (Crater Lake National Park) 26-Jul-2021

Boundary Springs – which emerge from semi-arid terrain in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park – are the source of the mainstem of the Rogue River. Many other tributaries and streams contribute to the Rogue before it reaches the sea at Gold Beach, but that river starts here. It’s tempting to think that these springs somehow tap Crater Lake itself but they are, instead, fed only by snowmelt.

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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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Upper South Fork Trail (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 03-Jul-2017

Upper South Fork Rogue River Trail Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

The South Fork Rogue River, a 25-mile tributary of Oregon’s Rogue River, rises in the Blue Lake Basin of the Sky Lakes Wilderness and flows generally northeast to its confluence first with the Middle Fork and then with the main Rogue slightly upstream of Lost Creek Lake.  The South Fork is bordered for part of its length by three hiking trails: the Lower South Fork Trail between Lower South Fork Bridge and Imnaha Creek (USFS #988), the Middle South Fork Trail between the Upper and Lower South Fork Bridges (USFS #988), and the Upper South Fork Trail from near Upper South Fork Bridge to the Blue Lake Basin (USFS #988).  Both the Lower and Middle trails are locally popular and are also described in almost every hiking guidebook for this area.  The Upper trail is rarely mentioned (if at all) in local guidebooks and is described by the Forest Service as a minimally maintained primitive trail, one not recommended for horses, and a challenging workout for hikers.  This made a hike of it sound intriguing for one last venture into the Sky Lakes until the end of mosquito season in September. Continue reading “Upper South Fork Trail (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 03-Jul-2017”

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 to Foster Bar 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 to Foster Bar.  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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Upper Rogue River Trail (#1034) Summary 28-May-2017

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

Sadly, as of May 2019, the trail from Crater Rim Viewpoint to Natural Bridge Viewpoint has yet to see any maintenance and remains difficult to find and follow due to fading tread, missing bridges, fallen trees, and encroaching brush. The section from Natural Bridge to River Bridge, which passes the popular Takelma Gorge, still provides relatively clear and easy hiking.

The Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) is a National Recreation Trail that roughly parallels the Main (or North) Fork of the Rogue River for about 47 miles from near its headwaters at Boundary Springs to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside of Prospect, Oregon. This trail can be thru-hiked but is more often hiked in sections, each of which is readily accessible from Highways 62 or 230. We hiked our first section of the #1034, the northern-most, in 2012 and sometime after that finishing the whole thing became a bit of an obsession.  We should have seen this coming since I’m sufficiently compulsive to finish almost every project I start.  This behavior has proved to be both a strength and a weakness, depending on how you look at it – but it does make for a lot of hiking, which is a universal good.  So, here is a summary – in section order from north to south – of our five-year, ~49+ mile mission to hike where many have hiked before…

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

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

Hiking trails follow the Rogue River for approximately 100 miles.  One of these, the Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034), roughly parallels it 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.  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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“An inordinate fondness…” (May 2017)

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”


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Western Water & Light (March 2017)

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” ~ Norman Maclean


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