BLM to reroute part of Rogue River Trail

GALICE — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to reroute a half-mile of the popular Rogue River Trail to bypass a major slide.

Work at the Dulog slide nearly 14 miles downstream from the Grave Creek trail head is among the agency's proposed maintenance projects for 2010 along the 42-mile trail, which is part of the National Recreational Trail System.

The agency is seeking public comments on its maintenance plans for the trail, which draws up to 10,000 hikers annually.

"We'll be doing other maintenance projects but rerouting along the Dulog slide is the largest," said Jeanne Klein, the Rogue River program management for the BLM's Medford District.

The plan is to use a portion of the old Kelsey Creek pack trail in rerouting the Rogue River Trail, she said.

"We want to get above the slide for a more permanent fix," she said.

Another large project in the proposed plans calls for replacing the Bunker Creek bridge about nine miles downriver from Grave Creek.

"We have a temporary bridge across it now," she said. "It will be replaced with a steel bridge about 75 feet long."

A helicopter will likely be used to bring in the span, she added.

The scenic trail, which winds along the north bank of the river, runs the entire length of the nationally designated wild section of the lower river.

Twenty-three miles of the trail is in the BLM's Medford District. The remainder snakes through the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest farther downriver from Mule Creek Canyon to the mouth of Lobster Creek.

"We have some maintenance scheduled to repair or replace five pit toilets along the trail," said forest spokesman Paul Galloway, noting the agency recently completed its annual inspection of trail bridges along its section of the trail.

The Lower Rogue Watershed Council, which works closely with the agency, also has some trail improvements planned for this year, he said.

"It's a nationally designated trail," he said, noting the trail draws hikers from across the country. "We try to keep up with infrastructure maintenance on the trail."

The Dulog slide, across the river from the mouth of Dulog Creek, has been an annual problem, according to the BLM. When the rerouting is completed, the new route around the slide will return to the Rogue River Trail about a quarter-mile downstream from the slide, officials said.

Other work along the trail on the BLM's section includes removing large rocks and wind-blown trees from the trail, stabilizing slopes, clearing brush along the trail and other projects. Much of the work would be done when the weather improves, Klein said.

Other than in the slide area, the trail is generally in good shape, she said.

The river trail, which is cut through solid rock in places, dates back to the 1800s when pack trains brought supplies to residents and miners. Hathaway Jones, a teller of tall tales who delivered mail to residents along the trail, began his first deliveries along the river path in 1898.

"The trail has a lot of history," Klein said. "We've probably got up to 10,000 people a year using it now. We have fewer people hiking this time of year but we had more people hiking and backpacking the trail last year (during spring and summer) than we usually have."

Comments on the proposed trail work should be sent to Abbie Jossie, Field Manager, Grants Pass Resource Area, 2164 N.E. SpaIding St., Grants Pass, OR 97526. Comments also can be sent to Jossie via e-mail at

The deadline for commenting is Jan. 27.

Reach Mail Tribube reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or

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