Historic Rogue River Trail offers challenging hike

Rogue River

In 1968, Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and included southwest Oregon’s Rogue River as one of the original eight. Fifty years later, there are now nearly 60 Wild and Scenic rivers or river segments in Oregon. The designation recognizes and helps protect our state’s outstanding scenery, fisheries and recreational resources for now and the future. A life goal might be to hike them all, but for the last couple decades, I’ve had just one in mind: the Rogue.

In the late 1980s, I worked for a Eugene firm that landed the City of Gold Beach tourism marketing account. Immediately, I added a couple southwestern Oregon adventures to my bucket list. For the first, several years ago my wife, Sibyl, and I boarded a jet boat for a 104-mile round-trip wilderness whitewater excursion from Gold Beach to Paradise Lodge. That’s as far as a jet boat can go before running into Blossom Bar, the most infamous Class IV rapid on the Rogue.

Still on the list was a four-day, lodge-to-lodge hike on the wild portion of the Rogue. A “wild” river is one that is impoundment-free and generally accessible only by trail. The more than 100-year-old Rogue River Trail was built for pack mules that supplied miners. Perched on cliffs high above the river, it’s narrow with a lot of ups and downs. Though it’s not difficult, the length makes it demanding.

Rogue River Trail

In October, to mark our 43rd wedding anniversary, Sibyl and I realized the dream, hiking the 40 miles from Graves Creek, near Merlin, to Foster Bar, near the community of Agness. It was a raft-supported hike, meaning our guide, Kara, hauled our gear, extra water and lunch in the raft, and checked in on us now and then. We hiked with day packs and stayed in rustic river lodges: Black Bar, Marial and Paradise. Nothing like a hot shower, a hearty dinner and clean sheets to prepare one for the next day’s 10- to 14-mile trek.

Paul and Sibyl

Along the trail, we viewed the iconic places of the Rogue: Whisky Creek, Battle Bar, author Zane Grey’s Cabin, historic Rogue River Ranch, Mule Creek Canyon and the famed Blossom Bar. Each has a unique history and charm. We saw plenty of wildlife and very few people – truly a wilderness adventure.

Rogue River Trail sign

What’s on your bucket list?

For the Forest,

Paul Barnum

Executive Director




9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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