Rogue River Trail East

The Rogue River near Grave Creek Rapids

  • Easy (to Rainie Falls)
  • 4.2 miles round-trip
  • 180 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year

  • Moderate (to Whisky Creek)
  • 7 miles round-trip
  • 300 feet elevation gain

  • Difficult (Grave Creek to Marial)
  • 23.2 miles one way
  • 2800 feet elevation gain

At times the irascible Rogue River idles along in lazy green pools, but elsewhere it’s misty mayhem, plunging over Rainie Falls or boiling through Mule Creek Canyon’s Coffeepot. During the peak whitewater season from May 15 to October 15, the 40-mile stretch between Grave Creek and Illahe has become such a popular float trip for kayakers and rafters that a lottery is held to issue 120 permits a day from a total of 90,000 applications.

Why not hike through this spectacular canyon instead? Trails along the Rogue River offer the same scenery without the crowds or the permit hassles. Day hikers can sample the canyon’s eastern end with an easy walk to the 15-foot cascade at Rainie Falls. A longer day hike reaches the Whisky Creek Cabin, a gold miner’s shack from 1880 restored as a rustic museum. Backpackers continuing west on the 40-mile Rogue River Trail should bring stoves because campfires are only allowed within 400 feet of the river if they’re kept in firepans. At night, hang food at least 10 feet high and 5 feet from a tree trunk to discourage black bears.

To find the eastern trailheads …

Other Options

If you’d really rather float the Rogue—usually a 3-day whitewater trip from Grave Creek to Illahe—you’ll need a permit between May 15 and October 15. Applications are accepted between …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.