Hikers: Maria, Steve, Greg, Cory, Edward, Jill and Tysen
Backpackers: Maria G., Steve W., Lois P., Linden C., Carol M., Dami R.
Distance: ~6.5 mi. each way, plus optional day hike
We’ve backpacked this favorite mid-section of the Wild and Scenic Lower Rogue River several times — between Mule Creek TH (near Marial Lodge) and Brushy Bar CG (with dayhike downriver to Clay Hill Lodge). We won’t repeat trip details, which you can find in our 2011 and 2012 reports (and for BIG members, 2014 plans); instead we’ll highlight some differences from previous trips.
We cancelled our first reserved dates due to rain. Our second reserved dates didn’t work out as well for everyone, so Gretchen and Harley K. backpacked the trail on their own on May 10-12, and Dami hiked in with the main group, but returned by herself on Wed.
Tue. On our drive into Marial, we saw the devastation of last year’s fires west of Glendale, and a bear cub who scampered up a tree.
Compared to 2 years ago, poison oak seemed more pervasive along the trail, though a little easier to avoid, esp. in Blossom Bar section. TecNu application assured that even super-sensitive Maria did not react.
Weather was in 90s, but we had plenty of water from lodge/cabin taps and filtered from cool creeks. The Rogue was lower than usual, so we could access a small beach area right at our Brushy Bar campsite. We encountered a rattlesnake near our tents, who decided we looked too scary and disappeared for the remainder of our stay. A raccoon or Sasquatch stole one cooking set (pot&cups) overnight.
Wed. Maria, Lois, Linden and Carol day-hiked to Clay Hill Lodge and a creek beyond; Steve and Dami hiked the ‘shortcut’ over Devil’s Backbone Ridge; while Dami continued back to the trailhead, Steve ascended Deak’s Peak, then picked up several sodas and Caldera beers at Paradise for happy hour later at our camp (don’t expect this service on possible future trips ;-)).
A Portland group backpacking the entire 40 miles in 3 days (10-15 mi./day) pitched their half-dozen tents at the other side of Brushy Bar campground, and shared the bear locker and outhouse.
Thu. We ate lunch at Blossom Bar rapid (site of 2 deaths last summer). We saw many more hikers on the trail, many raft-assisted. This trail is likely to become even more crowded/popular, after this Mail Tribune article appeared the next day: Step by step along the Rogue: Local expeditions let visitors run or hike the Rogue River Trail with support from experienced guides.
Photo credits: Linden, Dami, Steve
Beginning point: Natural Bridge
End point: River Bridge
Total Miles: 8.1
Hikers: Steve W., Mary K., Dianne K., George H., Marian C.
We gathered at Mary K.’s house in Ashland at 9:00 AM and carpooled up to River Bridge on Highway 62 north of Prospect, where we again carpooled to Natural Bridge to facilitate a shuttle. Thanks to Marian and Dianne who shared their vehicles to make the shuttle happen.
We hiked south on the Upper Rogue River Trail, which closely follows the east bank of the river. Fall colors were past their prime, although dogwoods were still showing some red. Quiet pools reflected foliage. Takelma Gorge was its usual spectacular self. We saw only a few mushrooms.
Our starting elevation was just over 3200 feet. Cumulative elevation loss for the trip was 400 feet over 8.1 miles—although the distance seemed shorter. The grade of the trail was nearly level with a few steep uphill pitches and rocky sections.
We started hiking down the trail about 11:00 AM and finished by approximately 3:00 PM. We had a short lunch break at the Woodruff Bridge picnic area which was about 3.5 miles from the start of our hike. We watched a water ouzel in the river and heard others as we hiked. The weather was spectacular Indian summer at its height—temps in the late 60’s to 70’s and a cloudless sky.