Derek and I drove the short distance to Union Creek to hike along the Rogue River and get out of the snow. Back when we used to race mountain bikes we would make the drive from Bend down to the Grants Pass area for a big race each year. That drive took us right past this area but we never really stopped to check it out. Early season like now is the time to go because the mosquitos aren’t out yet and neither are the tourists. Most of the campgrounds in the area are still closed so the trails and attractions aren’t congested.
We weren’t looking for a big hike, just a short loop to get out and see new things. The Rogue River Trail is a good option if you want something longer but we stuck to a few miles. We hiked through the forest past Natural Bridge and crossed over to the other side of the river to complete our loop. Natural Bridge is where the river flows through a 250-foot lava tube. Everywhere you look is lava and rugged nature.
At 5,300 feet, the headwaters of the Rogue flow from a spring on the west side of Crater Lake. Boundary Springs, the source of the Rogue River, emerges from the volcanic hillside as a burbling stream beginning its journey toward the Pacific Ocean. In total, the Rogue River is 215 miles from source to sea. On our hike we watched as 410,000 gallons of water flows through the area each minute! That’s enough to fill an Olympic sized pool. Only I doubt you would want to swim in this for long since the average temp is 44 F. The river is wide and more tame in some sections and then narrow, wild, rugged and rushing in others. The lava rock canyon walls in areas are wondrous, as are the underwater caves formed by lava tubes.
This area is truly special. We spent a nice afternoon on a quiet trail amongst fir, pine, incense cedar and plenty of deciduous trees and all kinds of greenery. Don’t skip this attraction if you’re in the area.