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Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead

Kalmiopsis Wilderness

Southern Oregon Coast + Rogue River, Oregon

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Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead

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  • Starting out on the Chetco River Hike near the Babyfoot Trailhead.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • Standing dead trees left from the 2002 Biscuit Fire.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii).- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • Open views of the Siskyou National Forest and Mount Shasta (14,179 ft.) on the Chetco River Hike.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • The Biscuit Fire burned nearly 500,000 acres in 2002.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • The Biscuit Fire burned nearly 500,000 acres in 2002.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • The Biscuit Fire burned nearly 500,000 acres in 2002.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • Waterfall on the Chetco River Hike (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • Chetco River.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
  • Chetco River.- Chetco River Hike via Babyfoot Lake Trailhead
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Crystal clear river. Isolated wilderness.
Cons: 
High sun exposure. Hike through a large burn area. Difficult trail.
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Region:
Southern Oregon Coast + Rogue River, OR
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,277.00 ft (998.83 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
18.20 mi (29.29 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,230.00 ft (1,289.30 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The hike into the Chetco River from the Babyfoot Lake Trailhead is a long and somewhat arduous journey, but the payoff is worth it. Here you'll find what is considered one of the clearest rivers in Oregon, replete with waterfalls, swimming pools, and rocks to lounge on as you enjoy the Southern Oregon sun. Few kayakers make the trip down the river because it is such a long hike in, but those who do are rewarded with a beautiful and rugged river. For hikers, the trip in and out is an excellent way to explore a remote corner of Oregon that gets very little foot traffic.

Most of the hike winds through the area burned in the Biscuit Fire in 2002. That fire raged through much of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and burned nearly 500,000 acres. The result is an odd landscape of white skeleton trees with a deep green understory of new shrub growth. These shrubs encroach on much of the trail, so wearing shorts is not recommended. The area is home to the Kalmiopsis leachiana, a purple flower, and the Brewer's weeping spruce, both of which are endemic to the area.

The hike begins at the well-established Babyfoot Lake Trailhead, but be careful to follow the directions to find the trailhead, and then be sure to use a map as you hit the trail. The first part of the trail to Babyfoot Lake experiences heavier traffic, and beyond this point the trail is less populated and more difficult to follow. Certain junctions are not easy to see and may lead to long detours. There is little water along the way, so bring plenty and use a water purifier to replenish along the trail. At points the trail is loose and slow going, so make sure you have plenty of time if you plan to make it to the river and back. Campsites along the river should be ignored because of their impact on the fragile riparian zone; instead, opt to use the campsites above the river that are only a short distance from the water. You will also encounter more established backcountry camping options along the trail.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(32 within a 30 mile radius)

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