East of Gold Beach in the Siskiyou National Forest, the Upper Rogue River National Recreation Trail (#1160) is a 42 mile route that parallels the northern shore of the Rogue River Wild and Scenic River. While the route travels through forest, there are many picturesque vistas including churning whitewater flowing through rock gorges with nearly vertical walls, towering cliffs and majestic stands of large Douglas-Fir and Cedar. The Rogue River supports an interesting and diversified wildlife population including black bear, river otter, deer, raccoon, osprey, bald eagle and rattlesnake.
The upper 26 miles from Graves Creek downstream to Marial Creek are on BLM land. The lower 16 miles from Marial Creek to Big Ben near Illahe are on National Forest land. There are numerous campsites along the trail. Although creeks offer water, remember that this water must be adequately treated before drinking. The hiking trail gets extremely hot in the summer. Hang food or use bear boxes when provided and keep your camp clean and free of food to avoid encounters with black bears. Poison oak is found all along the trail but can be avoided if watched out for.
Trailhead directions: From Interstate 5: Take the Merlin exit. Travel west on the Galice Road to all the way to the Graves Creek Bridge. Expect some congestion as this is a popular location for floaters to both put in and take out.
From Gold Beach: Take Jerry's Flat Road (County road 595, which becomes Forest Service road 33) about 30 miles through Agness. Turn right onto the Illahe Road (County road 373), continue past Illahe Campground, and Foster Bar to a sharp right turn for the access road to Big Bend.
Note: the BLM publishes a mile-by-mile scenic guide to this trail.
Overall, Upper Rogue River Trail is the 15th most popular hiking trail of all 21 hikes in Oregon.