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South Fork Rogue

*South Fork Gorge*

In my original description of this river I indicated that it was a log fest, and that many of the rapids were too manky.  It was pretty damn negative.  In fact, now that I think of it, this kind of negativity really only has a place on Fox News.  This was based on the trip I did that year that resulted in more portages than clean rapids.  In fact, I think the ratio was about 2 to 1.  This was in 2007, and since then, according to Jared Sandeen, who ran it in 2012, the river is much cleaner now.  Actually, one should think of this as a creek rather than a river, since even at moderate levels it will be pretty technical.  If I had to compare it to another creek I would say it resembles in difficulty and character Kidder Creek.  Kidder Creek is more of a roadside run and perhaps a little easier though, so it gets an easier rating.

If you decide to run this creek, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Even though most of the rapids are not class V, you should consider this a class V run because it is very remote and the rapids are pretty technical.
  2. The wood does tend to pile up quickly, so if you are running it for the first time you should be ready to scout all horizon lines.
  3. The first mile and a half is mostly class II.  The following 2 miles before the confluence with the middle fork are where you will find the most difficult rapids.
  4. There is an un-runnable waterfall about 2.5 or 3 miles into the run.  Worst of all, this is not just a portage, but a "throw and go", since there is no easy way down to the river.  The portage/throw and go is on river right.
  5. The last big rapid flows into the middle fork and I don't recall it as being scoutable, but even at our low flow it was pretty clean.
  6. The best scenery is after the confluence with the Middle Fork.  Actually incredible would be a good descriptor.  After the confluence you will have one good class IV rapid and about 3 miles of class II-III rapids until you get to the lake.  Once on the lake you need to turn right onto the North Fork arm of the lake and paddle "upstream" a couple hundred yards or so to the half-mile uphill slog.  The road may be hard to see, so look for a small creek coming into the lake.

All in all I would say that this is a fantastic river, although at the time that I ran it the logs and lack of adequate flow prevented me from enjoying its true beauty.  If you are lucky enough to paddle this river with a good flow and not too much wood, you should have a great time.

Take-Out - to get to the take out from I-5 in Medford, start by driving east on highway 62 towards Prospect.  Turn onto Mill Creek Dr a couple miles after crossing Lost Creek Lake and follow it for about 1.5 miles.  Look for a small unmarked road on the right with a cable blocking the entrance.  This leads down to the lake.  (This is the same take out as the Mill Creek run on the North Fork, and the Middle Fork run.)
Put-In - to find the put in continue up Mill Creek Drive about 4 miles and turn right just after the Nazarene Church onto Butte Falls Road.  Follow this road over the Middle fork and to the South Fork.  It's easiest to put in just upstream on river right.

Narrative copyright 2013 by Peter Gandesbery.  Contact Peter Gandesbery.  This page was last updated December 16, 2013.