Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rogue River Trail (via Whiskey Creek)

The Rogue River Trail is one of my Happy Places on Earth. Unfortunately, I've been on it so many times it's hard to get that kind of excitement one feels when a new camera arrives in the mail, just to cite one example. Because of the trail's proximity to Roseburg and because of the overall quality of this spectacular trail, even the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club was feeling ennui about the Rogue River. But leave it to Edwin to put some lipstick on the Rogue River pig! 

Hi ho, it's down the road we go!
Normally, we begin hiking at the Graves Creek boat ramp and turn around at Whiskey Creek Cabin. However, Edwin took us above the Rogue River and then on a rickety road that dropped about halfway down the river canyon. We began the hike by walking past a gate on the road and then dropping down to the cabin.

Flat trails are not overrated
Wow! The road dropped faster than a hard rock in soft water, even after accounting for the many switchbacks there to allegedly ease the grade. On the plus side, we arrived quickly at the trail to the cabin and we were all happy with the downhill hike at that point. Eschewing a Whiskey Creek Cabin visit (ennui, again) we made a right turn on the Rogue River Trail. Merle, John, and I had backpacked the RRT a couple of summers ago and we reminisced while the rest of the club giddily enjoyed the new trail smell as most had never set foot on this portion of the venerable trail.

Behold the mighty Rogue!
The trail was typical Rogue River Trail up-and-down on cliffs above the river and we passed the parklike glade of Big Slide Camp, the seething Tyee Rapids, and burbling creeks Alder and Booze. We had some sun and below the trail the river snaked gracefully around each bend. We didn't see any rafters as the river was coursing with the spring flow, it's nice to show Mother Nature some respect.

On the trail I saw this strange organism. It was like a plant as it had leaves but at the end of a stalk was dangling a strange colored thing. Someone told me it was called a wildflower. Yes, spring is coming and it was nice to see a grassy slope covered with Oregon sunshine, oak toothwort, and a lone fawn lily.

Please do not feed the animals

About a mile after crossing Russian Creek on a well constructed footbridge, we scrambled down a steep slope to lunch alongside the river. The sun was still out but more and more clouds were scudding in overhead as we ate. By the time we slogged back up to the trail, it felt like rain might be in the offing. Not surprising, considering the forecast called for an 80% chance of rain but apart from a lone 10 second shower, the forecast was off by approximately 80%.

On the trail with Talon and Kevin

I was feeling tired on the way back and probably the big climb waiting at the end had something to do with that. After nearly 4 miles of lollygagging and taking lots of pictures, it was time to head up to the car.  "Up" was the operative word as the road climbed 1,378 feet in 0.85 miles, or a 16% grade. I think I walked it about 20 yards at a time in between rest stops, accompanied by Kevin and his dog Talon. Kevin was walking at the same pace as me while Talon was merely putting up with the two of us.

Trees doing the forbidden tree dance
Right at the point where I had just about convinced myself to go find a new and less strenuous hobby, the yellow gate came into view and all the bad uphill stopped. I think I enjoyed the new hike experience and for more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Looks like a nice hike with the added twist of a new descent. We have never hiked beyond Whiskey Creek Cabin either. Let us know when you want to hike the Upper Rogue trail you mentioned and we'll book the date!

  2. brought back memories when some of us people in FOU backpacked from Graves Cr. to Illahe.

    1. I backpacked the Rogue River several summers of the best trips I've taken!