Illinois River Trail #1161
ElevationAscent: 6,490' 1,978 m
Descent: -7,126' -2,172 m
High: 3,866' 1,178 m
Low: 261' 80 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 55% (29°)
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“A stunning and challenging trail located within the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest.”— Monique Schaefers
Caching of equipment is prohibited.
Maximum overnight group size: 12 members.
This route has stunning views, crystal clear waters, and amazing and abundant wildflowers. Go early in the season, as Memorial Day weekend temperatures were already ranging between 85-90 degrees. There was more water available along the way than I thought the route would have, but there are definitely stretches with seasonal springs or without water.
Ticks and elk are in abundance here, and rattlesnakes can be found on a sun-warmed trail. There were signs of bears along the way, but no bears spotted on this trip (On the Rogue River Trail bears are spotted every time.)
The whole trail is in burned out forest (Biscuit Fire 2002). The entirety of the trail was impacted again by the Klondike Fire of 2018. Many sections did not burn too hot so the canopy still exists. Several spots are open, rocky, dry and hot.
Make early morning starts to be heading out in cooler temperatures. Stop for water when and where you can.
It is important to note that this route requires a shuttle, as the starting and ending points are quite far apart.
Memorial Day weekend 2016, we were on the trail from Sat-Mon on a challenging and fun backpack.
First day was 12+ miles to Bald Mtn camp. One section (about mile 9) was all exposed, rocky, HOT, and slow going. Once we got on the back side of the ridge it seemed cooler and the trail was dotted with springs.
Day two was challenging with almost all downhill travel. There is a switchback section, and it was killer in that the trees dropped lots of dry, slick leaves and rolly twigs on the trail, which made for a couple of unexpected sit-downs. The cross section view of the trail is very sloped. It makes for an more exhausting route as your body and muscles are constantly micro-adjusting to keep from sliding off the side of the trail.
Day three had a good up then down (200 ft to 800 ft to 250 ft within a mile) then up again (1080 ft at mile 3) before a gradual downhill to the Oak Flat campground. Some of this was pretty exposed but an early start meant it was on the cooler side.
The trail just past the Indigo Creek bridge is difficult and perilous. A wide rock/gravel slide on a steep hillside makes for a treacherous path. Take your time. Plant your trekking poles if you brought them. Shuffle out a ledge to step onto.
All of this trail was effected by the Biscuit Fire in 2002. Not all of the fire was so hot, and as a result not all of the trees are greyed snags. There are many lovely sections of green trees and shade. The vistas are amazing! The wildflowers were incredible.
Memorial Day weekend there was much more water than I expected from springs and creeks. Still, there were some stretches (especially that first day about 2/3 the way to Bald Mtn camp) with no water.
Other plants seen - Azaleas, Cedars, Rhodies, a kind of Pitcher plant.
Wildflowers include Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, miniature Wild Iris, Wild Lilac, Vetch, Shooting Star, Leafless Pyrola, Pacific Starflower, yellow SweetPeas, Honeysuckle, Columbia Lily, Mariposa Lily, Gooseberry, Phlox, Aster, Lewisia, Queen Anne's Lace, various Sedges, and so much more!
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible
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