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.
The trail continues through open terrain and fire scars from the Blossom Creek Fire with additional beautiful views of the river canyon. It’s another 1.2 miles to the remnants of the Mule Mountain Stamp Mill on the upstream end of Burns Creek. Cross Burns and then Blossom Creek before looking for a beautiful backpacker’s camp off the left side of the trail. Several pools in Blossom Bar Creek will ease your aching feet. Wander across the bedrock bench to look down onto Blossom Bar Rapid.
The route through Huggins Canyon was one of the last sections of river trail to be blasted into the bedrock walls along the river. The trail literally clings to the wall 100 feet above the river and offers several dramatic vistas along the way. It is 2.5 miles to the Forest Service guard station on the east end of Brushy Bar. Hikers can stay here or at either of the riverside campsites. For hikers with a fear of heights, climbing over the Devil’s Backbone Trail will avoid the sheer drops along the Huggins Canyon section.
Enjoy the stately forest that covers Brushy Bar. A forest fire in the early 1900s burned all of the trees, and back then the bar was covered in low shrubs and brush. Shortly after leaving the bar there is a nice view looking down on Tichenor Rapid. After 1.1 miles you will come to piles of mining gravel left from a mining operation on the high alluvial bench above Lower Solitude Camp. Below Solitude the trail enters a dense, fern-filled forest before it opens onto bedrock ledges as the river turns west. The footbridge crossing Tate Creek is just a little further downstream. The trail accesses the many camps around Tate Creek.
The trail weaves in and out of the forest between Tate Creek and Tacoma Rapids. There are several open views upriver and a nice window looking down on Tacoma Rapids before the trail climbs into Clay Hill Creek and passes the lodge of the same name. Stop by the lodge if they are not too busy with customers, or choose to stay for the night.
The trail downriver to Flora Dell Falls (named after Flora Dell Thomas who grew up at Clay Hill and married Hathaway Jones) stays high above the river beneath an open canopy of oak trees. This beautiful section of trail offers many photogenic vistas onto Clay Hill Rapids and downstream into the Clay Hill Stillwater. Flora Dell Creek offers the quintessential waterfall/swimming pool combo just off the trail. A short trail accesses Flora Dell Camp on the river.
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Reference: Content excerpted from The Rogue River – A Comprehensive Guide from Prospect to Gold Beach. by 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.