Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lower Rogue River Trail

February 21, 2012

This was the getaway hike on the getaway day, last President's Day weekend.  Having enjoyed a superlatively sunny day and a horribly wet day on the days prior, this day split the difference as it was overcast; fortunately not a single drop of rain touched this incredibly handsome hiker.
The trail was a road walk at the start of the hike
Beginning at Agness, whose welcoming sign said "Population:  small", the first portion of the hike was on gravel roads weaving through the various Agness homesteads.  A brisk climb designed for autos and not quavering hiker legs brought me to the "real" trail but not the end of the climbing.
I should paint the bathroom this color
Topping out on a small crest wooded with oaks, the trail descended towards the very wide Rogue River, before heading back uphill.   Then it went down.  Then up.  Down.  See a trend?
Getting past this fallen tree was a challenge
As the trail approached the river, a large tree had fallen across the trail as it cut across a steep slope.  It was so not-fun to beat my way through the branches and get over the trunk via some adroit contortioning.  Whew!
Shortly after, the path approached a grassy pasture above the river, the large prints indicating cattle had been here not too long ago.  I'm not sure who Eddy is but a rapid in the river is named Big Eddy, the name bearing more significance to the rafting crowd.  As I walked through the pasture, the trail petered out altogether and I went back up the trail and found where I had unwittingly left the main trail for a cattle trail.

Thank you, cows!
Contouring the woods above the grassy bench, the path arrived at the first of several notable creeks:  Blue Jay Creek.  In what was false advertising, there were no blue jays that I could see or hear.  But there was a nice creek tumbling through the green and mossy forest.  A small gate took me uphill as the trail bypassed some private property alongside the river. 

Bridge at Morris Rodgers Creek
As the trail climbed, the vegetation became more Siskiyou-ish what with manzanita, evergreen coastal huckleberry, madrone, and laurel making an appearance.  After cresting at a dry and rocky slope, the trail dropped down into the Morris Rogers Creek drainage, crossing the creek on a stout bridge.  For a backwoods bridge, this trestled bridge truly was a work of art and probably is solid enough to last a millenia or two. 

After Morris Rodgers Creek, the trail began to climb in earnest and the vegetation and clime became drier as I gained elevation.  Huffing and puffing, I crested a jagged ridge and oh-my-goodness, there was a view for the ages waiting for me up there.  Even though I was all alone, I let out some jubilant war whoops at the splendor of it all.
The Rogue River, at Copper Canyon
Unbeknownst to me, while I was feeling sorry for myself climbing through viewless woods, I was at magnificent Copper Canyon.  The canyon is a narrow and rocky gorge with the turquoise and placid waters of the Rogue River pooled in between the bordering cliffs.  I was approximately 650 feet above and one step away from the river's waters.
A small landslide on the trail

After a lengthy view-soak, I continued on the very cliffy trail.  At one point a landslide had covered the trail and I picked my way carefully across while the ground shifted under my feet with rocks rolling all the way down to the river.  Eeeh!  However, I'm glad to report no hikers were harmed in the resumption of the hike.

A brisk descent through rocky slopes and then shaded woods...well, they would have been shaded if there had been any sun; at any rate, I wound up at idyllic little Painted Rock Creek.  Since I had a long drive back to Roseburg, this was a logical turnaround point, I commenced a leisurely return hike, snapping pictures of just about everything. 
Painted Rock Creek

This was an absolutely gorgeous hike.  I'd never been on this trail before but I'll be back, preferably with a backpack on.

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