Amos and friends set off on a 5 day/4 night journey down the Wild and Scenic Rogue River Trail in Southern Oregon’s Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest. This episode starts with a wild Googs chase on the way to stage a vehicle at the western terminus at Big Bend Trailhead near Foster Bar. Thanks to Anthony and an ample portion of chocolate pudding, Amos learns what it means to be prodigious.
The Rogue River Trail is one of the most scenic early-season backpacking trips in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in general. The route traverses the north side of the Rogue River for 40 miles as it rolls through the lush and remote Rogue Valley. The scenery is fantastic, with gorgeous spring wildflowers and abundant wildlife. There are few other hikers on the trail and many beautiful campsites along the way. With few early season backpacking options to chose from in the Pacific Northwest, the Rogue River Trail is among the very best.
Distance: 40 miles (one way)
Days Needed: 3-5 days
Type: Shuttle or out-and-back
Elevation Gain/Loss: 4,500ft / 4,950ft
Best Time to Travel
The Rogue River Trail can technically be hiked year-round due to its low elevation. However, the best time to hike is in the spring and fall. Summer brings scorching heat into the canyon and conditions can be dangerous if you’re not well prepared.
Although this area of Oregon is generally drier than other parts of the state, it still receives a fair amount of rain (and sometimes snow) in the winter. If you decide to hike in winter, be prepared for the possibility of washouts, downed trees, and muddy trails. Also, getting a car shuttle in the winter and early spring is possible, but it’s much more expensive until the main road (Bear Camp) opens (usually mid to late May).
Over the course of 40 miles, the trail undulates along the river with some big ups and downs, but without the same type of climbing you’ll experience on most PNW mountain trails. The trail does have some narrow portions with steep dropoffs, so take care in these sections.
As always, difficulty ratings depend on your experience, physical fitness, pack weight, & weather conditions. This is not a technically demanding hike, but like any backpacking trip, you should plan accordingly, train properly, know your limitations, brush up on your skills, and dial in your gear. Doing so will make for a safe and enjoyable adventure.
No permits are needed to hike the Rogue River Trail. Woo hoo!
Leaving a vehicle at Graves Creek is not allowed so we parked at Galice Resort at had them shuttle us to the trailhead.
It’s always good to have a topographical map for trail mileage, water sources, and campsite scouting. I printed the BLM map shown above, sections of this Caltopo map, and used the Gaia GPS phone app for navigating this trail.
Check the Rogue River Forest Service page for official regulations. Some important considerations:
Fires are prohibited within 400 feet of river.
Water is normally plentiful along this trail and easily accessible from small streams. Carry enough water to get from one source to the next and a lightweight water purifier.
Compared to most popular PNW hiking destinations, the Rogue River Trail sees far fewer hikers, so in that sense the solitude is excellent. That said, the Rogue River is a popular rafting location as well, so you may have to share some campsites with whitewater rafters. On the last 10 mile stretch of the trail (the western side) you may also hear the occasional roar of jetboats.
Bears & Food Storage
Black bears are common along this trail, especially on the western side. In high bear population areas there are bear boxes, food hoists, and bear fences for convenient nighttime food storage. Along the trail where there aren’t bear boxes, it is still important to store your food properly. Make sure you know either how to hang a bear bag properly or carry a food storage container.
Some of this text was sourced from this informative link at Clever Hiker:
The forest service offers this handy trail guide: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5346991.pdf
Produced and Directed By:
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Special thanks to Galice Resort and Luke Jones for logistical help.
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