Running the Rogue River Trail

Most people are familiar with rafting on the Rogue, but it turns out that there is an excellent 41 mile running trail as well. Located in Southern Oregon, this trail is quite a ways from Portland, but it makes for a great 3 day weekend adventure. For years Marcus Mayfield organized a group out and back run on this trail every Memorial day. We are all thankful to Marcus for opening our eyes to this trail. This web page gives some background info for a typical out and back run.

There is quite a bit of information already on the internet about this trail. The BLM has a great website and I would suggest checking out their site: BLM Rogue Trail website.

Start of the trail.

When To Do This Run

The maximum elevation of the trail is under 1000 feet so I guess you could do this run any time of the year. I'm sure it is wet and cold in the winter and in the summer it can get quite hot so spring and fall are probably the best seasons.

Logistics of the Run

There are a number of options available for doing the run. For years Marcus Mayfield and his gang ran from the Grave Creek boat ramp out 41 miles to the Illahe campground. They camped that night and ran the whole way back the next day. This works well but of course you need someone to drive out with your stuff and meet you at the Illahe campground. The drive out is about 2-4 hours (depending on what roads are open).

If you can't convince somone to drive out to the end, then another alternative is to stay at Illahe lodge. This is at mile 39 on the trail. We did this in 2003 and mailed a change of clothes & food out to the lodge the week before. We then had to mail our dirty clothes back home from the lodge. Staying at the lodge worked out very well, dinner and breakfast were prepared as part of our stay, we got hot showers and comfortable beds to sleep in. See the BLM website for information on lodges.

There are a number of other alternatives as well. If you don't want to do the whole length of the trail in one day you can stay at one of the lodges midway on the trail. There are also shuttle services that will take rafters back up river. I've heard that you can even arrange for a shuttle service to drop your car off at the far end. For more information on these options check the BLM Rogue Trail website.

Maps and General Route Information

The trail is 41 miles each way. For an experienced ultra-runner, that should not be too hard. Our experience was that the run was tougher than we had expected (which caused much debate about the accuracy of the BLM mileage). The trail has a number of rocky sections and a few ups and downs. Overall this has the effect of making a long day. It took us about 10 hours to run out to Illahe lodge (39 miles) and about 10.5 hours coming back.

You probably cannot get lost on this run. You start on the north side of the river by the Grave Creek boat ramp, and stay on the norths side of the river the whole way. The trail probably never goes more than 1/2 mile inland. About the only tricky part is the road section near Rogue ranch but if you look at the pictures (below) then you should not have any trouble managing that section.

Water is generally not an issue. You don't go down to the Rogue itself very often but you do cross a number of rivers that feed into the Rogue. At a minimum creek water is available every 5 miles. Tap water is also available about midway at the Rogue River Ranch.

Reasonably accurate mileage information is available from the BLM trail log. In addition, you might want to carry with you the RogueTrailSheet.pdf that I put together.

Driving Directions

This isn't the quickest way to get there but it is on major roads.

Take exit 61 off of I-5
Get on to Merlin Road and drive about 3 miles into Merlin
Stay on what is now Merlin-Galice Road for another 12 miles through the town of Galice
Continue on another 6 miles on Merlin-Galice road (AKA BLM-35-8-13) to the Graves Creek bridge.

From Portland it takes about 5 hours to drive to Graves Creek.


Ronda Sundermeier planned a trip on Memorial day of 2003. There were two of us with digital cameras and we took a lot of pictures. These photos should give you a pretty good feeling for what the trail is like.

For each picture, you can click on the picture to bring up a large full resolution shot (but this may take a while to load).

NOTE: This page contains running information for experienced ultra runners. Experience ultra runners are people who have already completed 50K, 50Mile or longer ultramarathons. The advice on this page is not directed towards hikers or typical 10k recreational runners. No guarantee is made about the accuracy of maps or information on this page. This page is only intended as a starting point for your own research on places to run. Always check route information yourself and be prepared.