Categories
Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trip report

Hershberger Mountain, Rabbit Ears, and Natural Bridge – 10/16/2020

We had a full itinerary scheduled for the second day of our Union Creek trip with three stops planned. We had originally planned on stopping first at the Rabbit Ears which are about 10 miles from Union Creek along Forest Road 6515. From Union Creek we drove north on Highway 62 to Highway 230 where we continued north on that highway for .9 miles before turning left and crossing the Rogue River on Forest Road 6510 (Hershberger Road). After 1.6 miles we forked right onto Forest Road 6520 and in another half mile turned left onto Forest Road 6515 (shown on Google Maps as Road 299). DO NOT rely on Google maps to get you to either Rabbit Ears or Hershberger Mountain. Not only is the road number incorrect but after approximately 4.5 miles it is misidentified on Google maps which shows the road making a hairpin turn to the left and shows no other existing roads. In reality this is a 4-way junction with FR 6515 continuing as a slight left. A total of 5.6 miles after turning onto this road we came to an actual hairpin curve to the left around a small meadow. To the right was a small parking area for the Rabbit Ears, but it was still a bit dark out to start hiking so we decided to change our plans and head up to Hershberger Mountain first. To reach Hershberger Mountain we needed to continue another mile on FR 6515 and turn right onto FR 580 for what Sullivan described as 1.8 steep, rough miles. We originally missed the part about the right turn after a mile and wound up passing FR 580 which was also marked as an OHV trail. After going more than 1.8 miles the wrong way we turned on our GPS unit to confirm our location then reread the book and found our error. We turned around and drove back missing FR 580 again thinking it was strictly an OHV trail and not an actual road but this time we quickly caught our mistake, turned around again and were finally back on track. A 2017 wildfire burned much of this area and along most of FR 580 which was in pretty bad shape with a number of large waterbars, some deep enough that the front bumper our our Subaru Outback scrapped the ground ever so slightly so passenger cars probably shouldn’t try it. When the 1.8 miles was up we came to a parking area on the left side of the road with some trails signs and a truck.
IMG_7144Sunrise from the parking area.

Two trails left the parking area, the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail and the Acker Divide Trail.
IMG_7143

We would be taking the Acker Divide Trail but first we wanted to visit the lookout on Hershberger Mountain so we continued up FR 580 toward the lookout.
IMG_7145

We could have driven the .8 miles up to a parking area just below the lookout but 1.8 miles of FR 580 had been enough. This stretch may actually have been in a little better shape but then again we were only walking on it and not trying to drive.
IMG_7151

IMG_7155

The lookout tower is available on a first come first serve basis and with the truck at the parking area below we weren’t sure if someone was using it so we didn’t go in but we did explore the area around it.
IMG_7156

IMG_7157

IMG_7158

IMG_7171

The views were great which was a nice change to our Labor Day trip to Rattlesnake Mountain where smoke ruled the views. (post)

IMG_7160Mt. Bailey, Howlock Mountain, and Mt. Thielsen

IMG_7162Arant Point, Union Peak, Goose Egg, Klamath Point, Lee Peak, Devils Peak, Pelican Butte, Lucifer Peak, Venus, Rabbit Ears, Mt. McLoughlin, and Mt. Shasta (among others).

IMG_7166Mt. McLoughlin and Mt. Shasta

IMG_7163Rabbit Ears

IMG_7169Sun over Crater Lake National Park

While up near the lookout I noticed a sign along the rocky ridge to Hershberger Mountain’s summit.
IMG_7178

IMG_7177

I headed for the sign and then continued onto the summit on a user path.
IMG_7189

From the summit I could make out Rattlesnake Mountain (post) behind some burned snags.
IMG_7191
Weaver Mountain just to the left of the snags with Rattlesnake Mountain behind to the right and Fish Mountain the furthest right.

IMG_7195Survey marker at the summit.

IMG_7197The sign, lookout, Rabbit Ears, Mt. McLoughlin, and Mt. Shasta coming back from the summit.

As I was coming back the unbelievable happened. For the second day in a row a varied thrush held still long enough for me to get decent picture.
IMG_7202

I rejoined Heather near the lookout and we hiked back down to our car and after taking a few more sips of the coffee we’d left in it we started down the Acker Divide Trail.
IMG_7205Acker Divide Trail leaving FR 580.

The trail quickly entered the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness.
IMG_7207

The trail dropped quickly losing nearly 300′ in the first .4 miles where the trail crossed a small stream at the edge of a meadow.
IMG_7212

IMG_7213

The meadow was what we have come to picture when we think of this particular wilderness. Faint tread with a few cairns led us through the meadow and into a section of green trees.
IMG_7215

IMG_7217

IMG_7216Another cairn to the right of the tree ahead.

Beyond the meadow the trail leveled out a bit and just over a mile and a half from the trailhead we passed a sign for the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail.
IMG_7225

IMG_7229

I believe that the 2 mile section beyond this sign may be abandoned. On the map it leads to the edge of the wilderness near the junction of FR 6515 & FR 580 but according to the Forest Service and a sign we saw at a horse camp along FR 580 the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail follows FR 580 between that horse camp and the trailhead we were parked at. In any event we stuck to the Acker Divide Trail arriving at a meadow below Toad Lake in another .4 miles.
IMG_7231

IMG_7234A lonely flower along the Acker Divide Trail

IMG_7236Mushroom near the meadow.

IMG_7245Toad Meadow

Another .4 miles brought us within view of the Cripple Creek Shelter at the edge of the fire scar.
IMG_7250

We made our way to the shelter where we took a nice break and enjoyed the surroundings.
IMG_7252

IMG_7253

IMG_7254

IMG_7258Tis the time of year for Mushroom to replace flowers.

We returned the way we’d come keeping our eyes out for mushrooms and any lingering flowers that might yet be blooming.
IMG_7263

IMG_7265

IMG_7267

IMG_7271Candyflower

Our hike here came in at 6.8 miles and approximately 1200′ of elevation gain. After successfully navigating FR 580 again we stopped at the Rabbit Ears pullout and followed a path into the trees.
IMG_7274Pullout along FR 6515

IMG_7275Trail to Rabbit Ears

In a tenth of a mile the patch split and we chose to go right which brought us to the base of the rock formation.
IMG_7284The split

IMG_7286

IMG_7289

IMG_7292

The trail then turned uphill on some loose rock which made us happy that we’d chosen to go this direction because we felt going up it would be easier than coming down.
IMG_7294

IMG_7295We were surprised to find these phlox blossoms still looking good.

From the high point we had a pretty good view of Mt. McLoughlin and Mt. Shasta to the south.
IMG_7307

IMG_7308

Continuing on the trail brought us a view of Fish Mountain to the north before the trail dropped back down into the trees to complete the loop.
IMG_7313

20201016_114550_HDRSmaller rock formation along the trail.

The half mile loop was really nice. Getting to see the Rabbit Ears up close was interesting and the added bonus of mountain views and surprise phlox was icing on the cake. We then drove back to Union Creek and parked at the lodge where we were staying since our next hike started just across the highway.
IMG_7329Beckie’s Cafe across Highway 62.

IMG_7332The lodge, store, and gift shop at Union Creek Resort.

We crossed the highway to the seasonally closed ice cream shop and followed a path on its right side to the Rogue Gorge Viewpoint parking area.
IMG_7331The Ice Cream shop and to it’s right the sign for the trail to the Rogue Gorge Viewpoint.

IMG_7337Interpretive signs at the parking area.

A .2 mile paved loop offers a short but spectacular option for a quick tourist stop with several viewpoints of the Rogue Gorge. We did the loop counter-clockwise heading first to viewpoint 4.
IMG_7339

IMG_7344Viewpoint 4

IMG_7352Rogue River at viewpoint 4.

IMG_7358Viewpoint 3

IMG_7359View upriver from viewpoint 3.

IMG_7361Downriver from viewpoint 3.

IMG_7369Interpretative sign at the viewpoint.

IMG_7370The lava tubes.

IMG_7373Viewpoint 2

IMG_7380Viewpoint 1 above the end of the Rogue Gorge.

From viewpoint 1 the paved path crossed a footbridge before arriving at the interpretative sign boards at the parking area. The Rogue Gorge Trail, which we took, continued as a dirt trail descending to the riverbank and continuing downstream.
IMG_7382

IMG_7386

For the next 1.2 miles the Rogue Gorge Trail followed the river closely as it passed a number of cabins and a portion of the Union Creek Campground. This section of the Rogue River flowed quietly past a wonderful display of Fall colors.
IMG_7397

IMG_7398

IMG_7401

IMG_7403

IMG_7404

IMG_7410

IMG_7413

IMG_7422

IMG_7424

IMG_7425Union Creek Campground

At the end of the 1.2 mile stretch we arrived at Union Creek (the actual creek) and crossed it on a footbridge.
IMG_7428The orange sign and flagging was for a 50k being run the following day.

IMG_7429Union Creek

Beyond the footbridge was a 1.7 mile stretch of trail passing more of the campground and some other cabins before arriving at a footbridge spanning the Rogue River.
IMG_7431

IMG_7435

IMG_7443

IMG_7455

As we neared the bridge the river became wilder as it passed over and through more lava flows.
IMG_7463

IMG_7464

IMG_7472A Clark’s nutcracker

IMG_7484

IMG_7488The footbridge to the upper left.

IMG_7494

The footbridge offered an opportunity for a 2.2 mile loop using the Upper Rogue River Trail and passing Natural Bridge. For now we stuck to the Rogue Gorge Trail and continued past the footbridge.
IMG_7496Rogue River on the other side of the footbridge.

IMG_7502

About a mile from the footbridge we came to a sign at what looked like a fork in the trail.
IMG_7503

We took the right hand fork sticking to the river bank where a gentleman was walking his dog. The trail petered out on some rocks along the river.
IMG_7504

It was easy enough to walk over the rocks though so we continued on not realizing that we were very close to Natural Bridge which in the past had been the way across the river but has been closed and replaced by another footbridge.
IMG_7510

IMG_7516

We turned inland on an old road bed still not realizing we were off course until it petered out and we discovered we were on the wrong side of a fence.
IMG_7517

IMG_7515

When we saw the fence we realized that we should have forked left at that sign so we made our way to the correct side of the fence and quickly picked up a paved path coming from the Natural Bridge Day Use Area.
IMG_7518

The paved path brought us to the Upper Rogue River Trail which we took to the footbridge across the river.
IMG_7519

IMG_7520

IMG_7525

The Rogue Gorge had been spectacular but Natural Bridge added the element of oddity to the mix as the river disappeared under the lava rock only to reappear a short distance later.
IMG_7532

IMG_7534

IMG_7541

IMG_7544

IMG_7546

IMG_7558

IMG_7565The inlet

Beyond Natural Bridge the Upper Rogue River Trail decided to gain some elevation as it climbed steeply gaining 300′ before dropping back down to the other footbridge. The climb did provide a brief glimpse of Llao Rock along the rim of Crater Lake.
IMG_7576

We turned off the Upper Rogue River Trail to cross the footbridge and return to the Rogue Gorge Trail.
IMG_7591

IMG_7593

We turned left on the Rogue Gorge Trail and followed it back to Union Creek. Instead of crossing the creek this time we turned right onto the Union Creek Trail.
IMG_7607

The Union Creek Trail followed the creek closely for .7 miles through the Union Creek Campground. The trail actually passed through some campsites but this section of the campground was closed for the season so all of the sites were empty.
IMG_7615

IMG_7614

IMG_7620

The trail crossed Union Creek on a footbridge near the campground entrance.
IMG_7624

On the far side of the bridge was a parking area near the Union Creek Amphitheatre where they were setting up for the 50k.
IMG_7626

IMG_7627

Just up the road from the parking area here a short path led to another parking are near Beckie’s Cafe where we simply walked up to the take out window and ordered dinner and a piece of pie.
IMG_7628

IMG_7631

IMG_7632

The pie was as good as I had hoped it would be having read about it from Boots on the Trail. After dinner we walked across the highway and into our room at the Union Creek Resort Lodge. It had been another day of nice hikes in this area. We were growing more and more impressed with the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness (despite the lack of trail maintenance). There was something about that wilderness that just felt peaceful. We went to bed looking forward to another visit to it the following day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Hershberger Mountain and Natural Bridge

One reply on “Hershberger Mountain, Rabbit Ears, and Natural Bridge – 10/16/2020”

Yes, it’s all about the pie when hiking anywhere near Beckie’s. šŸ™‚
Good to see that the Acker Divide Trail is still passable and that the shelter survived the 2017 Pup Fire. The #1434 Pup Prairie Trail might not be officially abandoned as it’s junction up on the ridge with the #1470 is quite obvious and seems in decent condition. It’s more likely that the intervening 2 miles have simple not been maintained in ages. šŸ˜¦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s