- Depending on where you start the trail can vary in length from 5 miles to 7 miles round trip.
- The trail is an easy trail and there is very little elevation gain or loss (depending on your hike +/-300 feet).
- According to websites the trail is open March-November, but I am guessing depending on snow melt it will be good earlier. The view point is open year round.
- No major drop offs or cliffs make this meandering trail great for kids and families.
During our stay at Farewell Bend Campground we wanted to do some hiking. We tried for Muir Falls, but didn’t make it to the end and then did the short hike into National Creek Falls. We wanted to go a bit further than we had, and decided to walk a portion of the Rogue Gorge Trail. We were lucky because we had a trail head right at our campground that led a 1/2 mile to the Rogue Gorge view point and then further to Natural Bridge Campground and viewpoint. Doing the math it was going to be a bit more than 7.5 miles round trip which was a bit far for us at that point in the day (and after 3 miles before that). We set off figuring we would turn around before we got tired. We did roughly 2.5 miles round trip and wished we had just hiked this trail that day. It was gorgeous!
I mentioned the Rogue Gorge View point before on a trip we did a couple of years ago to Crater Lake and were staying at Joseph Stewart State Park. During our drive to and from the National Park we made the stop in Union Creek to have a look. I was so excited to find that I was going to get to walk this!
The gorge itself is a narrowing of the river where the water pushes its way through lava rock. The river flows past a section of old lava tubes that have been worn away. Back during the eruption of Mt. Mazama these tubes were filled with lava and eventually collapse, which you can see evidence of in the rock face. The Rogue flows through powerfully here and with the moss and ferns, surrounded by trees, the view point is a great place to stop and take it all in.
The trail follows the Rogue River as it flows to the west. The river mellows out as you get further from the gorge and there are some areas I would like would be good swimming and wading areas. **Please see my note below on swimming safety!** We did not go in the water due to the swift current and cold water temperature. We were seeing a lot of snow melt coming out of the mountains and it wasn’t safe at that time to get in the water. It didn’t stop us from enjoying our walk!
We made this an out an back from the Farewell Bend Campground which is .3 miles east of the Rogue Gorge View Point. After passing the Gorge View Point, you will pass by the tiny little town of Union Creek. There are several houses in this area along the river and a little restaurant. The trail goes up and down a bit here and you will pass cabins and step over rocks. We went about a mile down the way before stopping at a curve in the path and the river, had a quick look at the water and the sandy banks and turned around (pictured below).
Many people start this hike at Natural Bridge. I learned you can make this a short loop hike by crossing the Upper Rogue Wild and Scenic River at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint footbridge and following the Upper Rogue River Trail #1034 to the Natural Bridge Campground, returning on the Rogue Gorge Trail to Natural Bridge Viewpoint.
When we go back to the area, we will definitely hike this whole stretch of trail. It was beautiful and lovely, and even though we ran into a few people, you kind of feel as though you are out there alone.
** Safety – Every year people die swimming in Oregon rivers. In fact, with warm weather coming early this year, we have already seen our first deaths. Swimming can be extremely dangerous and can pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping and swimming area into a serious hazard. Before you dip your toes in or do a cannonball extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions. Also, please be a great role model for your kids and wear a life jacket (and make sure they have them too). The water is often colder than anticipated, the currents are swifter than they appear and undercurrents suck people down. Any of this can really ruin your day. Please swim carefully! **