Upper Rogue River Trail, Woodruff Bridge Trailhead to Natural Bridge - May 25, 2013 Coordinator Richard O'Neill, narration and pictures by Richard O'Neill.

The weather had been nasty for the week prior to this hike and the prediction was for more of the same on the day of the hike. So imagine our pleasant surprise when we walked under sun all day long in what amounted to a marvelous spring day alongside the Upper Rogue River.

There were 19 Friends on this hike and we headed north from the Woodruff Bridge Trailhead, ambling alongside a tranquil river with green waters silted from the winter runoff still. Spring flowers bloomed right and left of the trail and cameraholics were soon left behind the main group of hikers. About a mile plus into the hike, a brief climb took us to a narrow and forested ridge in the middle of an acute horseshoe-shaped bend in the river. The Rogue was not so tranquil anymore as it seethed and chafed angrily at the constraint imposed by a narrow canyon. When it tumbled down a narrow chute, we took a side trail to an overlook of Knob Falls.

Suitably impressed with the falls, we continued on to a paved trail which signaled our arrival at the Natural Bridges viewing areas. Hordes of tourists abounded but the bridge portion (where the river disappears into a lava tube) is underwater when the river is heavy with spring runoff. Still, the churning river impresses, bridge or no bridge, and we soon left the tourists and paved trail behind as we continued on upstream.

We ate lunch on a rocky bench next to the river where we enjoyed the sun warming our full tummies. After lunch, a brief climb took us up and over a ridge before we dropped down next to the river, again seething in a narrow slot canyon. The going was slow as we stopped to enjoy the river scenery before crossing the Rogue on a rickety footbridge.

On the way back, I had ample practice taking photographs of dogwood blooms as the trees were blooming everywhere. No one complained to me directly so I assume a good time was had by all on this marvelous spring day. The next day it was back to normal with the cold rain so we all felt like we snuck one in.


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