Raft-Supported Hiking Trips on the Rogue River
Oregon’s Rogue River is one of America’s most renowned whitewater rivers. The Wild and Scenic section stretches 40 miles through the pristine Wild Rogue Wilderness, an area of Oregon’s Coastal Range that is characterized by sharp ridges, steep terrain, and clear mountain streams. Paralleling the Wild and Scenic section of the Rouge River is the Rouge River National Recreation Trail, a world-class backpacking trail that is just as magical as the river itself.
ROW offers a unique experience for guests to hike the Rouge River National Recreation Trail while their gear is taken downriver by guides. We offer these raft-supported hiking trips in the spring and the fall. In the spring, we eat and sleep in lodges, while in the fall we camp. On these trips, folks are able to hike this beautiful trail without carrying a heavy pack, to eat and sleep in comfort, to maintain the option to get on and ride the river if they choose and to experience some incredible historical sites.
1. Hike one of America’s most beloved trails, without carrying a loaded pack
Day hiking and backpacking are two very different, though equally beloved, activities. In backpacking, we appreciate the multi-day immersion. This chance to be out in the wild, unbound to the stresses of our daily lives, and to instead focus on being inside of our bodies. But, my oh my, does that pack feel heavier and heavier each day.
While day hiking, we get to move quickly and freely. Carrying only that which we need for the next couple of hours (a snack, an extra layer, a camera or notebook), we have the freedom to dance lightly along the trail. To look around at the wildflowers in bloom and the lizards scuttling across downed logs. To pause frequently and appreciate vistas. Often, however, these day hikes are over too soon, and leave us missing that easy peace within hours of having just experienced it.
On ROW’s raft-supported hiking trips, you can experience the best of both of these activities, as you will essentially be day hiking the entirety of this 40-mile trail. Your overnight gear is taken by river from lodge to lodge, freeing you up to bring only a couple of items with you each day on the trail. For three or four days in succession, one can wake up with the only decision to make being if they would rather raft or walk to lunch. In this way, you can have the dreamiest parts of a backpacking trip (a multi-day wilderness experience, seeing long stretches of a trail) as well as the most-desirable aspects of a day hike (a light pack, freedom to stop and appreciate scenery, easy logistics).
2. Eat and sleep in comfort
A distinctive feature of the Rogue River are the several lodges that pepper the banks. Built originally to house and feed the Hollywood elite, today these lodges provide us, the hikers and boaters of the Rogue, a place to rest and recoup while far out in the wild. Warm homemade food and even warmer hosts make these spaces feel like home far, far away from home. For some folks, comfortable beds and accommodations makes the idea of a multi-day wilderness adventure much more appealing, while for some, lodge-boating makes such a trip possible.
In addition to wholesome, homemade food and comfortable bedrooms, these lodges are full of stories. Truly a piece of living history of the Rogue River, they provide an immersive experience of their own. Their bookshelves and walls tell the tales of this river canyon, and staying in them makes us a part of their story, too.
Finally, the lodge staff really make us feel like family. Joking and being amicable, they provide space for you to feel mentally, as well as physically, comfortable and to open up to one another as the trip goes on. This empowers folks to form deeper connections, both with the people they came with and the ones they just met. It’s really a beautiful thing to see.
3. Hike the trail, but still have the option to get on the river
There are some really, really fun rapids on the Rouge River. If you have excitement for experiencing those, without necessarily being in a boat the whole day, that is an option. Every day, we meet up for lunch. Folks will walk right up to a healthy, delicious meal made by your guides. After we share lunch, one can choose if they would prefer to hike or to raft the rest of the day. If you hiked that morning, but for whatever reason would prefer to be on the river in the afternoon, you can just throw on a PFD and get into a boat. The same is true of the reverse.
This flexibility has allowed many folks to feel much more comfortable about embarking on this trip. Because, whatever your situation, energy levels, or ability, there is a way to ensure your enjoyment and safety. We, the guides, will be happy to accommodate whatever your hopes are for your day. Just let us know, and we will make it happen.
4. Learn about the storied history of one of Oregon’s most renown rivers
The Rouge River is among the eight original federally-designated Wild and Scenic rivers in America. It received this honorable designation because, along with its notable salmon fishery and pristine scenery, it has a rich, storied, history. From 10,000-years-ago until today, this river and the surrounding ecosystem have been supporting humans from all walks of life. Entire lives, entire cultures have played out on the banks of this river, and that interacting with that history is an important part of the experience of the Rogue.
There is no better way to see and to understand the land than to be immersed in it. When hiking the Rogue River National Recreation Trail, you walk right up to and through some of these incredible historical sites. This provides folks the unique opportunity to have context for these spaces, and allows for a more complete understanding of what it may have been like to live and work in this canyon. In this way, one can both hear the stories from your guides, and experience those spaces for yourself.
Spring and early summer are a magical time to be on the water. The world is waking up from it’s long winter hibernation, and our bodies are eager for a break from the cabin fever that is a hallmark of those long, cold months. It can, however, be cold on the water when the weather is unobliging, and perhaps our bodies need a little more motion to get it moving again after the winter. If you take joy from hiking in unique forest ecosystems, boating exciting whitewater, and eating and sleeping in comfort, then a raft-supported hiking trip with ROW on Oregon’s Rogue River is the rafting trip for you.