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Wild Rogue Wilderness Loop

Difficult
 4.6 (11) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

No shuttle, no permits, no fuss. Just one of the top three loops in SW Oregon.


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Map Key

31.7

Miles

51.0

KM

Loop

3,685' 1,123 m

High

247' 75 m

Low

6,481' 1,976 m

Up

6,500' 1,981 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

114%

Max Grade (49°)

Dogs Leashed

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.

The drive in and the highest points of this route are at a transient snow level, so watch the snow depth.

Overview

This 25 mile loop provides access into the interior of the 35,000-acre Wild Rogue Wilderness Area, and also features the most enchanting section of the Wild Rogue River itself, popular among rafters and visitors on foot.

Need to Know

There are two wet creek crossings which could be dangerous and impassable at flood stages. Referring to a map is essential. There's great car camping at Tucker Flat, the campsite has 6 first come, first serve spots that are free of charge. There are pit toilets there, but no potable water. Tucker Flat is more accessible from the eastern side of the park. Google maps accurately locates it and can provide directions, but you'll lose service, so make sure you know how to get out again - the trail map only covers part of the way back to the highway. The roads there are all paved or reasonably well-maintained dirt, but they are active logging roads, so drive them with care.

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.

Description

There are five trailheads, but the best one to use is the one near the Tucker Flat Campground. Start and end from the Mule Creek Trailhead at Tucker Flat Campground. Hike the loop counter clockwise to make a more subtle ascent to Panther Ridge. That way you'll know whether or not the wet stream crossings are safe to cross in the first few hours of your day rather than the last few hours of your day. There will be one bridge crossing and then two stream crossings that require rock hopping. The second stream crossing is the last accessible water until near the top of the hill, so it is a good idea to fill up a liter or two (and maybe dip your feet).

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.

Flora & Fauna

The Wild Rogue is definitive of the area's rich biodiversity. You'll find yourself on harsh, serpentine slopes, rich coastal forests, and black oak meadows.

History & Background

These routes were used by indigenous peoples with a rich history. Before Lewis & Clark both Takelma and Athabascan speaking tribes inhabited the Rogue before the Rogue Indian Wars in the 1850s. The trails were used by early miners, but were properly engineered and built by Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps.

Contacts

Shared By:

Gabe Howe with improvements by Cass Kolkjen

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 11 votes

#671

Overall
  4.6 from 11 votes
5 Star
82%
4 Star
9%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
9%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#18

in Oregon

#671

Overall
110 Views Last Month
13,254 Since Dec 16, 2015
Difficult

0%
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17%
0%
83%
0%

Photos

The deep pristine gorges of Mule Creek never cease to amaze.
Jan 13, 2016 near Port Or…, OR
Driftboaters fishing for fall salmon in Mule Creek Canyon
Jan 13, 2016 near Port Or…, OR
Panther Ridge and Clay Hill boast the most contiguous, impressive stands of virgin old growth west of Interstate 5.
Jan 13, 2016 near Port Or…, OR
First creek ford of Mule Creek Trail. Nice canyon.
Jun 9, 2019 near Port Or…, OR
A fine stretch of the Rogue River.
Sep 15, 2019 near Port Or…, OR
View of the gently flowing Rogue River from the elevated trail on the western shore.
Sep 15, 2019 near Port Or…, OR

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Check-Ins

May 24, 2019
Cal Knights
31.5mi — 47h 24m
May 24, 2019
Kassel Galaty
Apr 3, 2019
Steve DiCicco
Elevations above 2600 feet are in snow. Panther Ridge not accessible. Mule Creek crossing is significant after heavy rain. USFS log out scheduled.
Sep 29, 2018
Tilman Giese
39.3mi — 15h 00m
Jun 22, 2017
Bruce Hope
We did this loop in 3 days going counter-clockwise from Marial, with camps at Upper West Fork of Mule Creek and Blossom Bar.
Jun 2, 2017
emmab
The trail was quite overgrown in several areas, including poison oak that was for all intents and purposes unavoidable. Camping spots were scarce.
Sep 25, 2015
Jaimie Garner