Illinois River Trail #1161


The Illinois River Trail is arguably one of the best hikes in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest! Spectacular wildflowers, old-growth trees, rugged and steep river canyons and a wide variety of wildlife are just a few of the natural treasures you'll find on the Illinois River Trail. Fishing can be quite good at times, especially in late fall or early winter. The low elevations of the trail (within 10 miles or so of either trailhead) are open during most of the winter, but travel over higher elevations, like Bald Mountain, will be snowed in.

The Illinois River Trail offers a trip through the north end of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. It is a fairly difficult trail, especially near Bald Mountain, but offers breathtaking views of the rugged canyon. In late May through July, various wildflowers are in bloom.

The east end of trail is at Oak Flat near Briggs Creek, on the Wild Rivers Ranger District. The west end of the trail is at Oak Flat near Agness, on the Gold Beach Ranger District.

This trail is located in an area that has burned in the Biscuit (2002) and Chetco Bar (2017) Fires. Although Forest Service trail crews and partner groups have been repairing and maintaining many of the affected trails following the fires, visitors should take into consideration (because of the substantially increased risk of fire-killed snags falling) that travel and camping may be more difficult and require greater concern for safety.

The Gold Beach Ranger District's portion (West End) of the Illinois River Trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail because of its outstanding scenic qualities and its association with the Illinois Wild and Scenic River. The Illinois River was added to the National Wild and Scenic River System in October 1984. The trail offers a unique and valuable recreation opportunity as it passes through an area that has been remarkably untouched by human activity. Although this trail can be followed for 28 miles, a short 2.5 mile hike takes you to Buzzards Roost for a breathtaking view of the rugged wilderness and Illinois Wild and Scenic River canyon.

There are camping spots along the trail and at either end, at the trailheads, and several side trails intersecting this trail along its length. A new bridge was built in 2005 across Silver Creek to replace one destroyed in the Biscuit Fire. The bridge accommodates foot traffic, as well as pack and saddle users. The bridge was re-located above the seasonal flow of the creek and should be useable year-long.

Under Travel Management regulations, the Illinois River Trail (from Oak Flat to the old Fantz Ranch) is open to motorcycles September 15- May 15.

No motorized or mechanized equipment (i.e. mountain bikes) are allowed past Fantz Ranch or in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Visitors to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness should be advised that trail conditions may vary, depending on the level of maintenance performed in the years after the Biscuit (2002), Chetco Bar (2017) and Klondike (2018) Fires. Due to the scales of these fires, and the rugged and remote conditions in the Kalmiopsis, trail work, while ongoing, has not been performed on all the trails within the fire perimeters. Visitors may find downed trees across the trails, dense vegetation where shrubs have grown in after the fire, and unmarked trail junctions in some places. Please check with the Gold Beach or Wild Rivers Ranger Districts before your visit for trail conditions. Additionally, you can visit theĀ Siskiyou Mountain Club's page, a local group who performs much of theĀ trail maintenance in wilderness areas.
Open Season: Spring - Fall
Usage: Light
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply. Trail is not designed for motorized or bicycle use. Access is conditional on whether there is snow at higher elevations.
Closest Towns:
  • Selma, OR
  • Grants Pass, OR
  • Gold Beach, OR
Water: Must treat water for consumption.
Restroom: None
Information Center: Wild Rivers Ranger District

General Information

Directions:

West Access: From Gold Beach, Oregon, take County Road 595 (Jerry's Flat Road), which turns into Forest Road 33, upriver almost to Agness, Oregon. Turn right on County Road 450 (Oak Flat Road) just after crossing the bridge over the Illinois Wild and Scenic River, and follow to trailhead (left side) on the backside of Oak Flat.

East Access: From Grants Pass, Oregon, go south on Highway 199 (Redwood Highway) 18 miles to Selma, Oregon. Turn right at the Post Office (yellow flashing light) onto County Road 5070 (Illinois River Road) which becomes Forest Road 4103. The road is paved only short distance past Store Gulch. The remainder of the road is gravel/dirt, often with pot holes. The last few miles are narrower and rugged, and high-clearance vehicles are suggested. The road ends at the trailhead. There are some junctions to private property in the Oak Flat area. At the junction with Forest Road 4105, stay to the left on 4103.


General Notes:

Activities

Mountain Biking

No motorized or mechanized equipment (i.e. mountain bikes) are allowed past Fantz Ranch or in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: Easy to More Difficult

Backpacking

Horse Riding

Difficulty Level: Easy to More Difficult

OHV Trail Riding

Under Travel Management regulations, the Illinois River Trail (from Oak Flat to the old Fantz Ranch) is open to motorcycles September 15- May 15.

No motorized or mechanized equipment (i.e. mountain bikes) are allowed past Fantz Ranch or in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Difficult

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
28.0 miles

  Elevation : 
900 feet - 3,747 feet range