Some segments of the 79-mile North Umpqua Trail in Southern Oregon are not suitable for horses. But the Hot Springs Segment is a real delight. A river, two fascinating waterfalls, and a hot spring. What more could you want?
Distance: 7.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 2,450 to 2,750 feet
This is a nice ride on relatively easy terrain, with none of the big drop-offs that characterize many segments of the North Umpqua Trail. You’ll ride the North Umpqua Trail east to the Hot Springs Trailhead, where you can detour to Umpqua Hot Springs (big attraction: nude bathing). Or continue on the North Umpqua Trail for 0.4 mile (you’ll now be on the Dread and Terror Segment to see Surprise Falls, which gushes out of the hillside just below the trail.
Continue a short distance to see Columnar Falls, where water pours out of the hillside and down a cliff of mossy columnar basalt, then seeps back into the ground. Amazing!
You won’t want to continue any farther on the Dread and Terror Segment, because the trail narrows and runs along very steep side hills. Retrace your steps to return to your trailer, savoring your memories of those fascinating waterfalls.
You won’t find any designated horse camps along the North Umpqua River, but you can dispersed camp (dry camp) at Illahee Flat or at Thorn Prairie. Neither spot has any amenities, but you won’t pay any fees, either.
Getting to Toketee Lake Trailhead
Drive east from Roseburg on Hwy. 138. At milepost 59, turn left on Road 34, follow it 1.3 miles, and turn right into Toketee Lake Campground. Follow the signs to the boat ramp and park there.
You’ll find more information about the Hot Springs Segment and other rides along the North Umpqua River in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.