Last year we backpacked the 40-mile long Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Foster Bar – an amazing trip! This year we have plans to raft the river – which should also be amazing but we won’t have to carry anything! The Rogue River Trail runs along the north side of the river while the much shorter, but equally scenic, Rainie Falls Trail runs along the south bank. We hadn’t hiked it before and so used that as excuse to reacquaint ourselves with this segment of the river. The Galice-Merlin Road was temporaily closed by a landslide, so we worked our way to the trailhead from Interstate-5 at Sunny Valley via some backroads.
Much of the Rainie Falls Trail, which was part of the pack trail along the river when it crossed the river at Sandersons Island and came up the south bank, is hewn out of solid rock,
and runs both well above the river,
and down close to river level.
About a mile in, we passed Sandersons Island, now readily visible because of the low river level,
and the remaining pier of Sanderson’s mule and foor bridge that was washed away in the 1927 flood.
Across the river, we could make out the sign indicating high water during the 1964 flood – 55 feet above the river! Since then dams upstream have curbed the Rogue’s ability to flood but it can still rise 30 feet or so in wet years.
A mile further on, we came to Rainie Falls, a 15 to 20 foot Class V drop in the river. In preparation for our guided rafting trip of the Rogue in June, we learned that guided trips have their clients walk around these rapids while the guides run the rafts through a fish ladder along the north bank. And here we were thinking that as the bow of the raft tipped into this rapid, it would occur to us that walking and carrying a backpack wasn’t so bad after all.
After a snack, we headed back along the trail, which runs through patches of forest,
and along a cliff face,
back to the trailhead, with one last look at the Rogue as it heads toward Gold Beach and the Pacific.
This is a short hike (4.2 mile round-trip; 180 feet of elevation gain) but you could add a hike out and back on the main Rogue River trail to Whisky Creek Cabin, making for an 11 mile round-trip day.