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Trail of the Week: Rogue River Trail, Oregon

Nearly 40 glorious miles in southwest Oregon.

Our Trail of the Week feature is made possible through a partnership with Trail Run Project.

The Rogue River National Recreation Trail traverses the wild section of the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River for its entire glorious 40 miles in southwest Oregon. Majestic waterfalls, steep canyons, and glistening side-streams are just the beginning of this special place.

Although some long-distance runners can do this in a day, it is most commonly backpacked over three to five days. But even running a section of this trail makes for a remarkable day. Be prepared for everything: exposed sections can be brutally hot in the summer sun, but a cold day with drizzle will be especially cold in the deep forest. There is easy access to the river every few miles, and a swim might be just the ticket to keep you going on a hot day.

The first 5 miles are quite rocky due to ancient lava flows that have been folded upright. The lava is about 140 million years old, and the Rogue River has been eating away at for the last 1 million. This section is exposed and can be hot. At 1.7 miles, you’ll pass Rainie Falls, one of the larger falls of the river. At mile 3.3, Rum Creek comes in on the south bank and Whisky Creek on the north. A quarter up Whisky Creek lies a miner’s cabin dating from 1880 and used until 1973.

The official Wild Rogue Wilderness begins at mile 24.4, and the next 2 miles are some of the most scenic. Take it slow and enjoy this section.The aptly-named Inspiration Point is at mile 25.2, where the trail goes on a narrow ledge high above the cliff. The trail is both beautiful and exciting. You’ll run on a ledge carved out of the cliff high above the canyon—don’t make a misstep! This is another particularly hot and exposed section.The final miles include one substantial hill, but as you roll into the parking lot you should have a huge smile on your face!

Along the river you may see deer and otters or even black bears looking for salmon. Bears, grown accustomed to easy pickings from boaters, may prove to be a nuisance in numerous campsites.

Birds abound, such as fish-eating osprey and great blue heron, and lizards hasten over the dry slopes above the water. Ticks and rattlesnakes are often encountered.


The Data

Miles: 37.8

Runnable: 97 percent

Singletrack: 100 percent

Average Grade: 3 percent

Max Grade: 18 percent

Total Ascent: 3,091 feet

Total Descent: -3,567 feet

Highest Elevation: 916 feet

For a closer look, check out the interactive map, data, photos and virtual run simulator courtesy of Trail Run Project: