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Source of the Rogue

This could be your last weekend to see the source of the Rogue River before the snow flies.

If you've never seen thousands of gallons of water erupting from the middle of a rocky hillside, the trail to Boundary Springs is worth considering for a sunny autumn day trip. The trail will disappear for the winter after the first big snowstorm, but at midweek forecasters were predicting sunny skies and dry weather through the weekend.

The 2.4-mile trail is relatively flat, with just 480 feet of elevation gain, so it's a good choice for families with young hikers. The porous soil drains quickly, so mud shouldn't be an issue, but sturdy shoes would make sense if you want to keep your feet warm and dry on a chilly fall day.

The trip to the springs begins at the Crater Rim Viewpoint along Highway 230, where the Upper Rogue River Trail leaves the parking area. You'll walk through open stands of lodgepole pine, mountain hemlock and Shasta red fir for about a half mile. Where the trail splits, take the left fork, where the Boundary Springs Trail begins.

The trail crosses Forest Road 760 about .9 miles from Highway 230. Turn right and follow the dirt road for about 100 feet to find the trail again.

The path continues toward the springs along the edge of a narrow canyon the river has carved through pumice that was deposited during the eruption of Mount Mazama some 7,700 years ago. You'll know you're near your destination when the river broadens and flows across a number of trees that have fallen across the water. In high summer, the trees support beautiful colonies of bright yellow monkeyflowers.

The trail peters out in a meadow of thigh-high brush, but if you press on you'll find the springs pouring out of the side of a low ridge. Just let your ears be your guide, and walk toward the sound of tumbling water.

The trail begins on National Forest land and ends inside Oregon's only national park, where pets and motorized equipment are prohibited.

To get there, take Highway 62 east from Medford, past Prospect to Union Creek, through the 12-mile scenic corridor of old-growth Douglas fir and sugar pine. Take Highway 230 where it turns toward Diamond Lake and go about 18 miles to the Crater Rim viewpoint, where the trail begins. Allow about 90 minutes for the trip from Medford.

For a trail description and directions, see William Sullivan's "100 Hikes in Southern Oregon."

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail:bkettler@mailtribune.com

Source of the Rogue