Wild Rogue Wilderness Loop
ElevationAscent: 4,585' 1,397 m
Descent: -4,587' -1,398 m
High: 3,861' 1,177 m
Low: 250' 76 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 28% (15°)
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“No shuttle, no permits, no fuss. Just one of the top three loops in SW Oregon.”— Gabe Howe
Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Family Friendly There are short day trips from Marial and Panther Ridge, but the best day hikes are up Mule Creek to the first creek crossing lead to world class swimming holes, and the easy trip to Hanging Rock.
Poison oak is prevalent along the Mule Creek Trail and the Rogue River Trail. The area is inhabited by black bears, so all food should be properly stowed overnight and never left unattended. Additionally, be prepared to encounter rattlesnakes on or near the trail.
Start with the ascent along Mule Creek's pristine gorges to its headwaters. Flat spots are extremely limited along the Mule Creek trail, so unless you have a hammock, it is a good idea to plan on hiking past the west fork of Mule Creek. There is a nice grassy spot right at the upper trailhead (water is accessible via hiking down the dirt road about 15 minutes to the right) or there is a nice spot in the trees with a seasonal creek about half an hour up the Panther Ridge Trail.
From there, roller coaster through contiguous old growth stands along Panther Ridge Trail #1253 to the Clay Hill Trail #1160A. The forest is beautiful, but there is no water along the ridge, so pack plenty if you plan to camp up there. The Clay Hill Trail #1160A descends 3,000 ft over 4.5 miles via manageable but steep switchbacks through a changing scenery of conifers, madrones, and oaks. Approximately three quarters of the way down is the Thomas Homestead - cross a small creek to the right of the trail and look for the remnants of an old stone building with a large meadow behind it. Camping is possible here, though the water quality and flow depends on the time of year.
Descend less than a mile further and you'll find yourself at the Rogue River. Stop by the Clay Hill Creek just to the right for the best water you have seen since your stream crossings back at the beginning of Mule Creek (Rogue River access is over the bridge and down the trail immediately adjacent the creek, don't let the tool shed from the Lodge make you think it is a private road), or follow the Rogue River National Recreation Trail to the left to continue the loop. There are several campsites along the Rogue River Trail, many with bear lockers and established toilets. Make sure to get your swimming in early though - there is no river access after Paradise Lodge back to the trailhead, as you end up high above the river on the cliffs.
Use the Powers and Gold Beach Districts Map published by the National Forest. Other maps may omit the Clay Hill Trail.
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Local Club: Siskiyou Mountain Club (SMC)
May 31, 2019: July 4 – 7: Volunteer on Kelsey Trail
Mar 23, 2019: Leading a renaissance in backcountry maps
Land Manager: USFS - Rogue River & Siskiyou Nat. Forest Office
Aug 13, 2019: Incline Timber Sale