Hiking The Rogue to Whiskey Creek

California Poppy
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Shortly after arriving to southern Oregon, both Sooney and I had a Rogue River Adventure. I floated the wild and scenic portion of the Rogue from Grave Creek to Foster Bar with a group of my faculty members from the middle school. We really did it in style, staying in two lodges along the way: Black Bar (mile 10), and Marial (mile 24).

Sooney, on the other hand, hiked the entire route as part of a geology course offered through Southern Oregon University (then SO State college). She camped each night and botanized each day—her project was studying Rhus diversiloba (Poison Oak) and there is plenty of it to study, resplendent in its diversified appearance. Their gear was rafted to each night’s campsite so they fortunately carried only day packs with plenty of water and snacks.

So here we are, roughly 20 years later and we got to hike a portion of it together with our local hiking group. We started at Grave Creek, located on the Merlin road and where all the wild & scenic boaters begin their adventure. Two trail heads begin on either side of the river: the south shore trail is about a mile long and ends at the fabulous class IV Rainy Falls (where boats and salmon wave at each other as they proceed on their respective journeys). We hiked the one Sooney walked that parallels the north shore of the Rogue, and continued the 3.4 miles to Whiskey Creek. En-route we crossed China Creek and a few others that allowed us to saturate our bandanas on a very hot May day.

While lunching at Whiskey Creek, we chatted with a mother and her son celebrating mother’s day on a 2-day backpack to Alder Creek, a bit further down the Rogue. As we began our return to Grave Creek, they were panning for gold in the cool sand where Whiskey Creek flows into the mighty Rogue.

From Whiskey Creek, boaters (and hikers) travel an additional 37 miles to Foster Bar, and it’s another 35 miles to Gold Beach. This summer, Jim & Carol will join us for a couple nights on the coast followed by an exciting drive along the Rogue via Agnes up and over the coastal range back to Merlin (and home). This route is somewhat perilous, a bit windy, and is the route rafters generally take after their 3-4 days on the water. (The other route home is longer and passes through the redwoods and Cave Junction). Both Sooney and I traveled the Agnes road and the snow should not interfere with our doing it again. We just have to remember to blindfold Carol, who’s uncomfortable driving on narrow roads.