After last weekend’s hike on the Rogue River and the tick attacks that resulted, I tried to find something that was a bit higher elevation this time around. A few days ago, I tried returning to Tom and Jerry Trail, which is pretty high up from the start. About a mile from the trailhead, the snow started getting deeper and deeper. In the end, I couldn’t even get my car to the trailhead. I actually got stuck in the snow for about 45 minutes and ended up going home in frustration after I finally got dislodged (note to self: don’t be cocky when it comes to driving on snow)
So, I decided to return to the Rogue, but further upstream where ticks can’t survive the cold. I don’t know how I’ve never done any of the Upper Rogue River Trail before, seeing as it’s fairly close to home and easy to get to. I think that I just wrote it off as “not that special”. I was very wrong.
I parked near Woodruff Bridge where the trail crosses Abbott Creek Road. This is a good entry point to go to Takelma Gorge downstream, but it is kinda far from Natural Bridge compared to its campground road (though that might’ve been closed this late in the year). Regardless, I ended up hiking in both directions to see both spots.
From the day-use parking, I followed the trail south traveling along the river. It was mid-morning and there was beautiful mist in the air that was caused by the cold, moist river air hitting the sunlight. I followed the trail for about 1.5 miles until the Takelma Gorge area came into view.
I turned around and headed back to the car, trying to decide whether or not I was going to go an extra 7 miles to Natural Bridge or just drive there. Since my guidebook said that the Upper Rogue River Trail was beautiful north of Woodruff Bridge, I took the trail.
There were a lot of good camping spots that I saw on my way upstream. One in particular caught my interest about 1.75 miles in. There is a juncture in the trail — left to go out on a fat peninsula or right to continue upstream. The peninsula had a small camping spot that would be perfect for a late-season backpacking trip (maybe in December before I leave for Christmas??!!?
At about 3.3 miles, I reached a juncture with the paved path that leads towards Natural Bridge. Since I had never been here, I didn’t quite know what to expect. There were interpretive signs that described the geology of the area. Basically, the river runs through old lava tubes that go underground and out of sight. Being the wet season, the water was pretty high and so not all of it fit in the underground tubes. As a result, I couldn’t really see the “natural bridge” of land that it goes under. It was, however, phenomenal to see how fast the water got lost in the ground and how fast it came shooting out of the outlet downstream.
If you’re curious about the maps and stats for this hike, here you go: