Tag Archives: Rogue River

Mill Creek Falls, Lost Creek Lake, and Lower Table Rock

For our second day of our extended weekend in Medford we had planned on doing a pair of hikes to the north of town. The plan was to do a short warm-up hike at Mill Creek Falls then do a longer hike along Lost Creek Lake. As the title of this post indicates our plans changed during the course of the day and we wound up adding Lower Table Rock to the itinerary.

We started our day by driving Highway 62 from Medford just beyond milepost 42 where we turned right on Mill Creek Road and followed signs for a mile to the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead.

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A wide path led downhill a short distance to a signed junction.

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We headed right following the pointer for the falls reaching a viewpoint of 174′ Mill Creek Falls after .2 miles.

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We continued another .2 miles where we arrived at a rock outcrop whith a view of the taller (total of 3 drops), more complex, Barr Creek Falls.

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After a short stay at this viewpoint we headed back to the junction and took the left fork toward the Avenue of Giant Boulders. After a quarter mile we arrived at a sign pointing left to the boulders and right for access to the Rogue River.

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We headed right first, arriving at a little beach along the raging river.

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We then made our way over to the Avenue of Giant Boulders. The boulders location here is a result of Mt. Mazama’s eruption which resulted in Crater Lake which is over 20 miles from this location.

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The hike to the falls and the boulders came in as 1.6 miles on our Garmin leaving plenty of gas in our tanks for the planned longer hike at Lost Creek Lake. From the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead we returned to Highway 62 and headed back toward Medford. Just before reaching a bridge over the Rogue River at Lost Creek Lake, we turned right onto Lewis Road for a mile to the Lewis Road Trailhead.

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Our plan was to take the Rogue River Trail along the lake to Lost Creek and back with a brief side trip to Blue Grotto at the 2.4 mile mark.

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The level trail was lined with various wildflowers (and plenty of poison oak) and offered occasional views of Lost Creek Lake and back to Needle Rock and its rock arch.

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Shortly after we passed a grassy hillside covered with yellow flowers I started noticing ticks.

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From that point on, until we reached the side trail to Blue Grotto, I picked up a decent number of the little parasites. It was beginning to remind us a little too much of our visit to the Illinois River the year before.

We turned up the .1 mile path to Blue Grotto and followed it to its end.

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This unique spot is another result of Crater Lake’s volcanic history. Ash from that volcano gives the rocks their color.

When we got back to the Rogue River Trail we faced a choice. We could stick with our original plan and continue another 3.4 miles to the Lost Creek Trailhead before heading back or we could declare victory here and head back now. The tick situation ahead could have been better but maybe not and we’d made it to the Blue Grotto, which was the featured attraction in our guidebook, so we decided to head back. We continued to see (and flick off) some ticks on the return trip but we also saw some more welcome wildlife.

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We were back at the Lewis Road Trailhead before 11:45am so we decided to pick out another hike to do on the way back to Medford. Our choice was Lower Table Rock.

From Lost Creek Lake we drove toward Medford to Highway 234 which we followed to Table Rock Road where we turned left and followed pointers to the trailhead just off of Wheeler Road.

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Upper Table Rock was just across some fields from the trailhead.

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The wide trail climbed gradually, at first, through wildflower dotted grasslands.

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As the trail neared Lower Table Rock it steepened, climbing up into a forest of oak and madrone trees.

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The trees began to thin near the top of the mesa, which we reached after 1.5 miles.

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The Table Rocks are known for their Spring wildflower displays and are home to some endangered species. We were a little concerned that we might be too late to see much in the way of flowers but those fears were quickly wiped away.

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An earlier spring visit would have provided different flowers and possibly a better show but the fields of winecup clarkia were spectacular and as were the displays of elegant brodiaea.

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An old airstrip is used as the trail on the mesa. Just beyond a boardwalk (to protect the vernal pools on the mesa) we turned left on a spur trail for .4 miles to an eastern viewpoint.

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From the viewpoint Upper Table Rock rose up amid the farmlands while snow helped identify some of the Cascade range despite some cloudy conditions.

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Mt. McLoughlin

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Peaks in the Sky Lakes Wilderness

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Crater Lake

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After returning to the airstrip we continued further along Lower Table Rock arriving at a southern viewpoint after about a mile.

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We watched as a number of rain showers passed by just waiting for the one that would finally drench us but all we ever got was a brief sprinkle.

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We stopped at the first south viewpoint for a while where we were joined by a ground squirrel.
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To the south was the snowy Mt. Ashland and Wagner Butte.

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and Dutchman Peak among others.

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A path led to the right following the rim out to a second viewpoint at the furthest end of the mesa.

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As it turned out the tick issues at Lost Creek Lake had turned out to be a blessing as we would not have experienced the wildflowers here otherwise. The clarkia and brodiaea stole the show but there had been others along the way.

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As great as the hike at Lower Table Rock was some of the things we witnessed there were not so great. First on the way up we passed a pair of young guys, one of which had a handful of flowers obviously picked from the mesa. Not cool. Then some fools had made cairns out of the rocks in the vernal pools, really not cool.

Next on our way back from the furthest viewpoint we noticed a couple with a dog at the other viewpoint despite the clear signs at the tailhead stating “No Dogs Beyond This Point”. Finally on our way down another young guy was busy chasing an alligator lizard through the brush. Harassing wildlife isn’t cool either but we did take a little comfort in watching the kid crash through and grab some poison oak. Hopefully the lizard got the last laugh.

We wish if people are going to visit these places that they would follow the rules and respect the areas. If they can’t do that it’d be nice if they just stayed home. Okay rant over, Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157684856053206

Shrader Old Growth, Myrtle Tree, Lower Rogue River, and Yontocket

On the fourth day of our vacation we were changing our base of operations from Gold Beach, OR to Crescent City, CA. We planned on checking out of our motel in Gold Beach in the morning and doing three hikes along Jerry’s Flat Road before heading down to our next motel. So far the vacation had been going okay but each day had thrown some kinks our way and this day would do the same.

Our first stop was the Francis Shrader Old Growth Trail.
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The interpretive loop was just under a mile long. Brochures were available at the trailhead which we found to be very informative. It was probably the best interpretive trail we’d been on and would make a great hike for kids. Unfortunately our phones didn’t handle the low light conditions of the morning in the forest well so our photos were limited.
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To reach this trail we’d turned off of Jerry’s Flat Road 9.7 miles from Gold Beach onto Road 3300-090 for two miles. Our next stop was just across the Rogue River at the Myrtle Tree Trailhead. To get there we drove 100 feet further along Jerry’s Flat Road and turned left on Road 3310 crossing the river and turning right onto an unmarked road for less than a quarter mile to the signed trailhead.
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This trail was even shorter than the Old Growth Trail at just half a mile out and back. It climbed to Oregon’s largest known myrtle tree.
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Rough skinned newts and snails were numerous on the trail so we had to watch our steps.
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After visiting the tree we returned to Jerry’s Flat Road and followed it across the Rogue Rive to Road 375 where we turned left and followed it to Agness. We parked at the Agness Community Center/Library per the trail signs.
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We were a little nervous about our planned 6.2 mile hike here given it was almost the same time of year as our tick filled visit to the nearby Illinois River Trail the previous year.

The first part of the trail follows roads and paths through private property so following the trail signs was important.
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Candyflower and wild iris were in bloom along the trail.
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Poison oak was also a common sight.
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The trail had not been maintained yet this year and we encountered blowdown almost immediately after leaving the old roads. We were able to navigate the first few spots without having to deal with any of the poison oak but it meant being more in the brush and it wasn’t long before we’d each brushed off ticks.

After only a mile we came upon a large washout.
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I crossed it to see if I could easily pick out the continuation of the trail. It wasn’t obvious and no marking was visible so we considered our options and decided neither of us were too keen on continuing. We were unsure of the trail conditions further on so we turned around, went back to the car, and did a thorough tick check.

It was going to be too early to check in to our motel in Crescent City so we decided to pick out another hike from our guidebook that would be along our way. We chose to check out the the site of a former Native American village in Tolowa Dunes State Park.

We parked at a tricky trailhead to find along Pala Road. My best advice for finding it is to look at the park on Google Maps, find Pala Road near the NE end of the park and get driving directions. 🙂
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Pala Road passed through cow pastures which proved to be interesting on our drive out as we wound up in a heard of dairy cows on their way to be milked.
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As for the hike my left foot had gotten a little tender during the drive. I had been wearing an older pair of hiking shoes and they were really irritating a tendon or ligament on the outside of that foot. Every step shoved the shoe up against it and I was really having trouble walking.

We were headed for the village site which was located atop a small hill.
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We stopped at the picnic tables so I could put some bandages on my foot to try and cushion the contact before heading back downhill to a marked trail junction where we headed for the Smith River.
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The scenery in the area was great with several types of flowers blooming and many birds flying overhead including great white egrets and a bald eagle.
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The bandages weren’t helping so Heather came up with the idea of trading shoes. For the rest of the hike we each wore one of the others shoes which did provide some relief. We managed to make it to the Smith River which was less than a half mile from the village site.
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It was late enough now that we’d be able to check in to our room so we called it a day and I limped back to the car. When we got settled I iced my foot and we wondered what the next day had in store. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Shrader Old Growth, Myrtle Tree, Lower Rogue, and Yontocket

Upper Rogue River Trail and Boundary Springs

Hike #2 on our mini-vacation was a visit to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Crater Lake National Park. The plan was to start at the Mazama Viewpoint on Hwy 230 and first visit Boundary Springs which is where the Rogue River begins. Then we would hike down the Rogue River to Rough Rider Falls. We would have turned around there but my parents decided to come along and start at a different trail head and hike up the Rogue to the falls. They dropped us off at the Mazama Viewpoint before heading down to the lower trail head. This allowed us to continue past Rough Rider Falls and meet them at that spot.

It was a cloudy morning and we’d driven through a little rain/snow mix on the way there. An occasional light rain would continue all day long with a glimpse of blue sky thrown in every now and then. We started off on the Upper Rogue River Trail from the Mazama Viewpoint and followed the trail half a mile to a junction with the Boundary Springs Trail. Shortly after joining this trail we started getting glimpses of the Rogue flowing through the forest.
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We crossed the boundary of Crater Lake National Park and continued on toward the springs. The river was increasingly scenic as we went.
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Near Boundary Springs was a pretty waterfall:
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The river just below the springs:
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The largest of the springs:
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After poking around the springs we returned to the Upper Rogue River Trail and turned left to head down river to Rough Rider Falls. The trail started out far above the Rogue as it flowed through an interesting canyon.
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We came upon a couple of deer that were too quick for pictures and a pair of noisy woodpeckers that didn’t seem too pleased with one another.
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We also saw the best candysticks we’d come across:
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And a strange mushroom thing:
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The trail descended back down to the river which was amazingly clear where the water was calm.
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Once the trail lowered into the canyon it became a bit messy. Many downed trees created tricky obstacles and the trail was in need of some maintenance.
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It was 4.2 miles from the Boundary Springs Trail to Rough Rider Falls. A sign above the falls announced them.
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It was pretty above the falls but we couldn’t get a good feel for them until we descended below them.
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After Rough Rider Falls we passed a pretty little waterfall coming from a hillside into the river.
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A little island with whitewater on each side:
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And finally an unnamed waterfall:
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The strangest thing of the hike was the amount of climbing we felt like we did considering we were supposedly traveling downhill with the river. When we arrived at my parents car we discovered that they had just finished about 15 minutes earlier. There were some mosquitoes around the car so we quickly tossed our gear in the back and hopped in. We had hopped to stop by Crater Lake on the way home since Dominique has never seen it and it had been years since my parents had. We were there in 2012 but smoke from a fire had obscured most the views. With the weather flipping between blue sky and rain showers all day we weren’t sure if we would be able to see the lake but my parents had their National Park Pass with them so we decided why not give it a try. As we drove up to the north rim we entered the clouds and some more rain/snow mix. The visibility was worse than our previous visit so I took a couple of pictures to show we were then we turned around and headed home.
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We plan on heading back this Fall for another try and maybe then we’ll be able to actually see the lake. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157645163872924/
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