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Rogue River Trail – Day 2

Kelsey Creek (RM 46.5) to Mule Creek Canyon (RM 54.5)

Southern Oregon Coast + Rogue River, Oregon

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Rogue River Trail – Day 2

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  • Verdant morning light reflects in the Rogue.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Potholes scoured in the bedrock from eons of erosion.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • A peaceful scene along the river at Kelsey Geology Camp.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Getting ready for another day on the trail.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • During lower water summertime flows, the Rogue flows through a narrow inner gorge carved into solid bedrock.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Lush forest offers some great wildlife viewing.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • A nice view from the trail.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • The ups and downs of walking along the Rogue.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Another window in the forest.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • The Mule Creek Ranch is a wonderful historic stop along the trail. This ranch was home to the Billings family, some of the earliest settlers along the Rogue.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • An interpretive panel showing the huge mining tressle that used to carry water across the mouth of Mule Creek Canyon into a hyrdraulic giant for mining downstream along the Rogue.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • A side trip up the Mule Creek Canyon Trail is worth the effort. This photo is from the bridge spanning a confluence up Mule Creek.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Evidence of early mining activity up Mule Creek.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • The burned remnants of mining or milling equipment.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Rusted gears.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Beautiful cascades in Mule Creek.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • The trail hugs the shaded left wall of Mule Creek.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Just downstream from the ranch and on the river is the Class IV slot of Mule Creek Canyon (named after Mule Creek upstream).- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • The inner gorge of Mule Creek Canyon is a wonderland of beautifully sculpted bedrock.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Coffee Pot Rapid (Class IV) is the crux of Mule Creek Canyon.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • The constricted Rogue River flows through Mule Creek Canyon toward Coffee Pot Rapid.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
  • Mule Creek Canyon is easy to access from the Rogue River Trail by scrambling over the bedrock ledges to the water's edge.- Rogue River Trail – Day 2
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Billingsly Ranch. Mule Creek Canyon. Zane Gray Cabin. Mining history.
Cons: 
Still not many river views.
Region:
Southern Oregon Coast + Rogue River, OR
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,360.00 ft (414.53 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring
Total Distance: 
11.40 mi (18.35 km)
Trail type: 
Shuttle
Trailhead Elevation: 
646.00 ft (196.90 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Rogue River Hiking Overview

The Rogue River Trail is a beautiful and well-maintained route that runs the entire length of the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue.  The typical starting point is the Grave Creek boat launch, and the ending point is a small trailhead between Illahe Lodge and the Foster Bar boat launch (typical take-out point for the four-day float trip).  Though the trail follows the river downstream, there are plenty of ups and downs that add a good bit of vertical climb to the trail.

There are a handful of lodges along the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue, and most hikers choose to complete the four-day walk by staying the three nights at different lodges downstream. Lodges typically provide hikers with a dinner, breakfast, and lunch for the next day, so hikers can go relatively light. The primary “hiking season” on the Rogue is in the spring from late April through early June. After that, the lodges typically fill up with guest or commercial float trips down the Rogue. Lodge contact information is listed in the order of river flow:

Black Bar Lodge (RM 41.9) – 541.479.6507

Marial Lodge (RM 53.7) – 541.474.2057

Paradise Lodge (RM 57.4) – 541.842.2822

Clay Hill Lodge (RM 62.5) – 503.859.3772

Illahe Lodge (RM 66.9) – 541.247.6111

It is also possible to backpack the river and camp in many of the scenic riverside campgrounds. Hikers can easily hike the canyon upstream from Foster Bar to Grave Creek, which is a great way to follow up a spring raft trip down the Rogue.

This trip was actually done as a backpack upstream in the reverse direction of typical hiking traffic. It is written up, however, as a four-day trip from Grave Creek to Foster Bar in order to represent how most people will follow the trail. Mileages given are based on the popular Rogue River Guidebook, as this is one of the most comprehensive resources available to hikers and floaters.

For more comprehensive information about floating the Rogue River check out this Adventure Overview.

Day 2 - Kelsey Creek (RM 46.5) to Zane Gray’s Cabin (RM 48.4)

The river trail downstream from Kelsey Creek crosses many open sections of forest that offer nice views of the canyon. The first 0.4 miles leads to the Kelsey Geology Camp. If it is unoccupied, explore the water-worn geology and numerous potholes along the river's edge. There are several spots to jump in and float past the island of Dothan bedrock downstream. Continue to the open meadows at Ditch Creek (another 0.8 miles) and scour the hillside for remnants of homestead cabins. The view looking up Kelsey Canyon from this section of trail is spectacular. The trail climbs through a beautiful, moss-covered oak forest with lush green grass underfoot before descending to the flats behind Winkle Bar. Wander across the airstrip to Zane Grey’s Cabin.

Zane Grey’s Cabin (RM 48.4)  to Quail Creek (RM 49.9)

The trail is fairly nondescript between Winkle Bar and Quail Creek. There is a beautiful pool, however, beneath the footbridge at Quail Creek. Leave your pack on the trail and scramble down for a refreshing dip in the cool water.

Quail Creek (RM 49.9)  to Marial Lodge (RM 53.7)

Leaving Quail Creek, the trail climbs nearly 300 feet in the first quarter mile, offering nice upstream views almost immediately.  It drops back toward Missouri Bar before leveling out at roughly 200 feet above the river. A handful of openings look down onto Island Rapids, Maggies Riffle, and China Bar Rapids en route to Mule Creek. In May, large blooming plants line this portion of the trail. After 3.4 miles the trail joins the Marial Road and passes the Rogue River Ranch. Stop and enjoy this historic BLM museum before continuing the final 1.2 miles to Marial Lodge for the night. If time allows, take the side trip up Mule Creek Canyon to the pack bridge and the remains of the stamp mill just upstream.

Marial Lodge (RM 53.7) to Mule Creek Canyon (RM 54.5)

Leave Marial Lodge and follow the road past evidence of the Red River Mining Company's massive hydraulic operations. The trail will leave the woods and move closer to the river at Mule Creek Canyon. The views are great along the trail, and it is possible at several places to scramble down to the river’s edge and look into Mule Creek Canyon and onto Coffeepot Rapid.  There are a few small pocket campsites among the bedrock on the edge of Mule Creek Canyon. Be sure to make the short hike downstream to the dramatic Inspiration Point that looks across the river onto Stair Creek Falls.

Previous Day - Rogue River Trail – Day 1

Next Day - Rogue River Trail – Day 3

Reference: Content excerpted from The Rogue River – A Comprehensive Guide from Prospect to Gold Beach. by Idaho River Publications.

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Published in collaboration with Idaho River Publications

Our mission is to inspire adventure with beautiful, comprehensive and waterproof map-based guidebooks.  Owner, publisher, and photographer Matt Leidecker, grew up exploring and guiding on the rivers in central Idaho.  His award winning Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide is the standard by which other river guidebooks are measured.  Printed on virtually indestructible YUPO paper, IRP guides are truly unique all-in-one resources for adventure.  Each book is loaded with full-color maps, stunning photographs, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers.  Visit Idaho River Publications to explore our guidebooks to the Rogue River in Oregon and the mountains of Central Idaho.

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