The Rogue River is one of two rivers in Oregon to start in the Cascade Mountains and flow west to the Pacific Ocean. (The other being the Umpqua.) It starts at the Boundary Springs at 5320 feet near Crater Lake and winds 215 miles through rugged forests and several towns, with the biggest being Grants Pass and the mouth at Gold Beach.
The Rogue River was named in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, where much of the river is accessed by boat or trail only. Jet boats take tourists from Gold Beach up the river to Paradise Lodge, one of four walk places to stay in the lower Rogue River. 120 coveted permits are allotted via lottery for the 35-mile whitewater rafting trip to Foster Bar. The river is popular to fish for steelhead and Chinook in the lower part and stocked fish farther upriver.
Bald eagles, ospreys, river otters, and black bears are some of the animals seen along the river. Because of the rapid change in elevation, the biodiversity of the Rogue River is tremendous. Near the headwaters are unique species of pine, cedar, and fir. Grasslands dominate the center section of the river on the eastern side of Medford, where table rock comes into view. From Merlin to the coast are madrone, Douglas fir, and western red cedar trees.
Rogue River Trail Runs
The Rogue River National Recreation Trail is a 40-mile hiking-only trail that begins at Gales Creek just west of Merlin to Big Bend near Foster Bar downriver. The only other car access is in Marial 24.5 miles down the trail from Gales Creek. Orange Torpedo offers 2-3 day trail running tours and shuttles back to their HQ in Merlin.
The Upper Rogue River Trail #1034 is 47.1 miles long with many access points from the Boundary Springs Trail to the North Fork Dam. The Rogue Gorge and Natural Bridge on Crater Lake Highway are popular points, but the rest of the trail is pretty remote.
Cathedral Hills is a ten-mile trail system in Grants Pass. A 9.3-mile loop using the outermost trails is great a tune-up for the Rogue River National Recreation Trail.
Rainie Falls Trail is a short 3.6 mile out and back located on the other side of the Rogue River Trail at Gales Creek.
Illinois River Trail is a 30-mile trail that starts at the Oak Flat trailhead near the confluence of the Rogue River in Agness on the western side and at Briggs Creek Campground near Selma on the eastern side.
Rogue River Trail Races
The Rogue Gorge is a new 50k race on the Upper Rogue River from Daybreak Racing. It will be an out and back from Union Creek Picnic Shelter in 2020, but new trail work by Daybreak Racing, Siskiyou Mountain Club, and Trails & Tarmac to improve the trail will make it a point to point in the near future.
The Sasquatch 50k and Relay put on by the Southern Oregon Trail System starts near the Rogue River at Sam Brown Campground near Galice using Taylor Creek and Briggs Valley trails.
The Secret Beach 100k and 50-mile race from Rainshadow Running is located near the mouth of the Rogue in Gold Beach using trails in the foothills of the Coastal Mountain Range.
The Wild Rogue Relay is mainly a road race but does use some trails. It starts in Jacksonville and ends in Brookings.
Trail Running Groups
There aren’t any trail running groups located in Grants Pass, but there are several in the Rogue Valley, including Rogue Valley Runners, Rogue Valley Race Group, and Trails and Tarmac in Ashland, Southern Oregon Running Enthusiasts (SORE) in Medford, and Woodlands Running in Jacksonville.
Did you know Dutch Bros. headquarters are located in Grants Pass? It’s impossible to drive anywhere in Southern Oregon without driving by one of the parking lot stands.
Rogue Roasters in Grants Pass is an award-winning micro-roasted coffee featuring blends and single origins from all over the world.
If the start is in Gold Beach, the Coffee Dock might be your only bet. It’s located in the cannery near Jerry’s Jet Boats.
Gold Beach’s Arch Rock Brewing is located at the south end of the bridge over the Rogue. Arch City serves three beers brewed in their 15 barrel house. Food is available next door at Hunter Creek Bar & Grill.
Wild River Brewing is a pizza company that also brews its own beer. Wild River has several locations, including Grants Pass and Brookings Harbor. The pub in Grants Pass also serves fish & chips and other bar food.
Climate City Brewing is located in downtown Grants Pass right on the Rogue River. They have a nice patio with views of the river.