Today I have a special treat for you. My friend Emily graciously agreed to share some of her families favorite hikes. Now what makes her so special? Well, do you ever have friends that you admire more and more over the years? Yep, she’s one of those. She is currently pregnant with baby #4 and she and her family get out on adventures more than almost anyone I know. They are constantly on the go – hiking, camping, canoeing, or biking. Yep, she’s pretty much Super-Mom! Thanks Emily!
The Rogue Valley is an amazing place for exploring the outdoors. Here are some of our families favorites! I’ve listed these hikes in order of difficulty, the first being the easiest. Being super pregnant right now, I can say I have done the first 4 hikes and would still do them in my condition, but I probably would be too tired to do the last one (but if you’re in better shape than me, you could do it… I am just getting lazy at the end of my pregnancy). I did the 4th hike a couple of months ago and my husband had to lift me over some of the boulders. The 1st three were no problem. (Ok, a fallen tree on hike #2 also required my husband doing a little lifting, but usually those are removed from the trail). The closest hike is #5, the furthest ones are 1.5 hours from Medford (#2 and 3).
#1 North Fork Campground
This is the easiest hike we take the kids on. It’s very flat, and it’s less than a mile to the dam. The trail follows a creek the entire way, which is great for small trout fishing. (I hiked this with the kids while my husband fished the river – we were able to stay together the whole time. Now that’s a great way to make a fishing Daddy happy, and a mommy of lots of little ones not feel abandoned!) This is the hike that any kid who can walk can do, since it’s not strenuous at all. Each step of the way is breathtakingly beautiful. One of my favorite hikes. You can find this hike off Highway 140 – going north before you reach Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods, you see a small sign pointing to North Fork Campground. Take a right there, and the hike is on the left.
#2 Stout Grove
This grove is found by Jedediah Smith State Park in California, near the Oregon border. You can pay to go in through the State Park, or you can take another dirt road and park for free. (The park and the dirt road are both off of Hwy 199). If you take the dirt road in, it’s a ½ mile hike up to the grove. The grove itself is a flat, 1 mile loop. This is also extremely easy for children, they aren’t going to want to ride in a pack on this hike. They will be sure to stop every minute to climb into tree crevices and walk on huge logs. This is where you will see the Giant Redwoods – the biggest trees in the world! This is sure to be shady, and often much cooler than inland. Bring mosquito repellent.This hike is a half hour from the coast, so you can go relax at the beach after this!
#3 Watson Falls
This is found off of Highway 138. This hike is so green and lush, and you get lots of views of a gorgeous waterfall. The kids love this hike. It’s an easy 0.8 mile loop with 300 feet elevation gain. There are actually lots of waterfalls off 138 that we love – Toketee Falls, Clearwater Falls… as far as hikes goes, this was one of our favorites. All these waterfalls are with a couple of miles of each other of 138, and we were able to hike several of them in one day. These hikes remind me of the rainforest in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State – I feel like I am hiking through National Parks, there is so much fern and green.
#4 Avenue of the Giant Boulders.
We always like to start this hike out by going to the right hand split in the trail to overlook two gorgeously tall waterfalls, Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls. Just beware, because there are no fences or barriers, so you really have to watch your little ones. Then we go back to where the trail splits off and we hike down to the Rogue River. They call this hike the Avenue of the Giant Boulders. The kids love to scramble over rocks and boulders. We love to do this hike in the fall, because all the vine maples change colors. At the end, there are pools of water near the river (stay away from the river, because it is too swift), and the kids can splash around in the water. They can also slide down the rocks like rock slides. While we love this hike, you do have to be very cautious of heights and water. The elevation change is not very big, and the hike is less than a mile each way. You have to carry our toddler but our 3-4 year old has no problem. This is located off of highway 62 at the Mill Creek Falls sign near Prospect, Oregon. Watch out for poison oak (stay on the trail to avoid it).
#5 Table Rocks
There is an Upper and Lower Table rocks found right by Medford. They are found off of Table Rock Road and Modoc Road. These are the closest to get to if you live right in the Medford area. Lower Table rocks has a small interpretive trail before the big hike. It’s about 3 miles round trip, but a lot of elevation gain. We have to carry the toddler, and the little ones need to stop and rest a lot. It takes a while to get to the top, but what a view! The top is a big flat butte that overlooks the valley. Coming down is much faster, just beware about the little ones tripping and falling (ours do almost every time). Bring plenty of water to drink, as this is a bit more strenuous for the kids. It probably takes us 1.5 hr to hike up, then we spend a bit of time on the time, and a half hour to get back down, so we try to allot 3 hours for this hike. This is a very popular hike as it is closer and easier to get to. This hike also does not have any fences, so don’t let your little ones run to the edge without you! It’s a sheer, steep dropoff. This is another hike where you should stay on the trail to avoid poison oak.
Emily is a Mom to three kids, with #4 coming this fall. She and her family are constantly on the go, exploring the outdoors where they live in Oregon. When she’s not out adventuring, she teaches music lessons, cooks gourmet vegan meals for her family, and homeschools her kids. She’s amazing!