For our first week of vacation this year we planned a trip to Grants Pass to continue working toward our goal of finishing all 100 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” edition 4.2. (post)
On the way down to Grants Pass we kicked off our week of hikes with a portion of the Rogue River Trail starting at the Grave Creek Boat Ramp.
Sullivan includes three hike options for his Rogue River East featured hike: a 4.2-mile out-and-back to Rainie Falls on the southern side of the Rogue, a 7-mile out-and-back to the Whiskey Creek Cabin on the Rogue River Trail, and a 23.2-mile one way option on the Rogue River Trail to Marial. The Rainie Falls hike was out due to the trail being damaged in the 2022 Rum Creek fire and the longer option wasn’t viable either for various reasons including a slide that currently has the trail closed roughly a mile upstream from Marial. That left the Whiskey Creek Cabin as our goal with an option to extend the hike if we felt like it.
Going into the trip there were two types of wildflowers that we hadn’t yet seen in bloom that we were hoping to find. One was red larkspur which I’d learned grew along the Rogue River Trail. As it turned out this was an easy one. When we climbed from the boat ramp to a set of signboards along the trail we immediately spotted some of the red larkspur blooming below the signs.
Red larkspur with blue dicks in the background.
Wildflowers are running a few weeks behind this year but they were putting on a good display as we set off on the trail.
Red larkspur, madia, blue dicks, and tomcat clover along the trail.
Tolmie’s mariposa lily and some madia.
Larkspur and a red larkspur
Camas with monkeyflower and plectritis
A darker red larkspur
Some of the damage to the trail to Rainie Falls on the opposite side of the river.
The wet rock here was sneaky slick.
We spotted a couple of pink larkspur.
Del Norte iris
All of that was over the first mile plus. At the 1.2-mile mark we came to a sign marking the high water mark from a 1964 flood and just beyond were the remnants of the former Sanderson Bridge which was destroyed in a 1927 flood.
Looking back upriver from the high water sign.
Sanderson Bridge site
We continued on continuing to watch for additional wildlife and types of flowers.
Just over half a mile from the bridge site we came to a fork and a pointer for Rainie Falls. While we were aware that there was little to no view of the falls down this path we followed it down a tenth of a mile to the river.
The only water we could make out on the far side of the river.
While there was no view of Rainie Falls we did spot a few colorful birds along the bank.
Sandy beach along the Rogue River.
After watching the birds for a bit we hiked back up to the Rogue River Trail and continued on reaching China Gulch in another half mile.
Approaching China Gulch
From China Gulch it was approximately 1.2-miles to Whiskey Creek and the side trail to the cabin.
This manzanita was particularly striking in person.
Rafts at Whiskey Camp.
Footbridge over Whiskey Creek
Sign at the spur trail to the cabin.
We turned up the spur trail and followed it uphill for 500′ to the cabin.
The initial cabin was built sometime around 1880 and improved/expanded over time to include a solar heated shower and insulated pantry. The cabin was lived in until the Bureau of Land Management purchased the deed in 1973.
After exploring the cabin and surrounding structures we decided to continue on the Rogue River Trail a bit further. We were trying to avoid getting to our accommodations in Grants Pass before check-in at 3pm so we decided to continue for another 15 to 20 minutes before heading back. We wound up hiking an additional 0.4-miles to Big Slide Camp.
Del Norte irises
Big Slide Camp to the left.
Outhouse at Big Slide Camp.
Snow on a ridge above the Rogue River Valley. (This was a sign of issues for us later in the week.)
We lingered a bit at the camp before heading back. As always, we kept our eyes open for anything we might have missed on our first pass.
Redwood sorrel along Whiskey Creek.
Passing the high water mark.
Arriving back at the trailhead.
Our hike here ended up being 8.7-miles with 450′ of cumulative elevation gain.
Aside from the rafters at Whiskey Creek Camp the only other people we saw were a pair of backpackers on their way out and a group of 15 on their way in. While we didn’t see any rattlesnakes (it was nice and cool out) we did pick up a couple of ticks along the way which we brushed off when spotted. Poison oak was present but easily avoidable.
We arrived at the Riverside Cabins in Grants Pass a little after 3pm. The six rentals were recently constructed and ours wound up being an excellent base of operations for the rest of the week.
It was a good start to our vacation, and we were looking forward to more great hikes in the days to come. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Rogue River East