: Tyler Roemer

Hike the North Umpqua Trail

Experience a classic Cascades landscape on your way to the headwaters of the North Umpqua River.
April 17, 2024

Winding 111 miles from its headwaters near Roseburg and heading westward to the Pacific, the Umpqua River offers up its cooling waters and green banks to relax and play. Hikers love the North Umpqua Trail, which shadows the river’s north fork for nearly 80 miles, starting east of Roseburg and climbing to Maidu Lake in the Cascades. 

When wildfires burned a dozen bridges and severely damaged about 30 miles of the North Umpqua Trail in 2020 and 2021, this cherished area suffered, but the National Forest Foundation sprung into action with a range of forestry and government agencies to spearhead trail restoration. The team has pulled off innovative fixes like using a helicopter to drop in a new steel bridge and has applied steady, continuing efforts to work like removing debris in steep, exposed country. Thanks to them and many others, the trail continues to evolve. Here’s a guide to some of the trail’s many highlights as work continues.

A tall waterfall pours down to a small body of water surrounded by cliffsides full of green vegetation.
Lemolo Falls (Courtesy of USFS)

Trail Features and Waterfalls in the West

The North Umpqua Trail consists of 11 segments varying in length from about 3 to almost 16 miles. The steep river canyon is full of treasures — stunning waterfalls and springs, a lush understory, wildflowers and some of the biggest trees you’ve ever seen. You can strap on a backpack and camp along the way, take on segments during day hikes, or hop on your mountain bike for a truly epic ride. 

Some of the segments are open again but still make for hazardous hiking. In the west section, the Marsters (3.6 miles) and Jessie Wright (4.1 miles) segments are unaffected by recent fires. Low elevation, pretty and relatively flat, both are good options for family outings. Here you’ll find 800-year-old Douglas fir trees, mossy rocks, fern-draped slopes and striking formations of columnar basalt.

For more of a challenge, hike high along the river canyon rim in the nearly 10-mile Deer Leap segment. At the eastern end, near Toketee Lake, you can take a satisfying side trip through an old-growth forest to two-tiered Toketee Falls, which plunges over a sheer face of basalt into a bewitching emerald pool.

From there hike the short but rolling 3.5-mile Hot Springs segment. Soon after the spur trail to Umpqua Hot Springs, you’ll begin the Dread & Terror segment, where the only thing to fear is the elevation gain; here the trail steepens to dramatic effect. You’ll encounter three more cascades, including Surprise Falls, which gushes forth from a rocky rupture just below the trail, and Lemolo Falls, which plummets 100 feet into a mossy rock gallery.

A bridge over a rushing creek on a trail.
Courtesy of USFS

Climb East to Lakes and Lava

The climbing starts gently on the 6.3-mile Lemolo segment, and Lemolo Reservoir makes for a good overnight spot, with four campgrounds and the Lemolo Lake Resort as options. As you climb above 4,000 feet, note the changing forest as it yields to a subalpine landscape of mountain hemlock, Shasta red fir and Western white pine. Three miles into the final Maidu segment, you’ll enter the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness, where you’ll trek across deep deposits of pumice — the legacy of Mt. Mazama, which, after its dramatic eruption, filled with snowmelt to form present-day Crater Lake. The trail terminates at wide and shallow Maidu Lake — at nearly 6,000 feet, the source of the North Umpqua River. Bring repellent for the mosquitos.

A camping site with an tent, bench and picnic table.
Courtesy of Bob Wick/ BLM

Where to Stay and Eat

Reserve early at popular, picturesque campgrounds near the trail that can be accessed from Highway 138, including Boulder Flat, Eagle Rock and Toketee. Book a room with a view at the Steamboat Inn, and enjoy exceptional dining while you’re at it. Umpqua’s Last Resort offers cabins, RV sites and tent camping, and it makes for a comfy headquarters for your adventure.

In the town of Glide, stop by the cozy 138 Grill for stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, lunch or dinner, or The Atom Bistro and Coffee Bar for inventive burgers and beers. At the east end of the trail, grab a meal at the Diamond Lake Resort or treat yourself to an overnight stay in one of its guest cabins.

If You Go:

  • Several of the trail’s western segments — including Tioga, Mott, Panther and Calf — were closed after the fires, and while they are open now, many portions have not been cleared and hazards remain. Call ahead at (541) 440-4930 for the latest updates.
  • Hikers should bring the Ten Essentials and be prepared for changing weather conditions. 
  • Stay on the trail to protect sensitive plants in the landscape. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.
  • If you want to lend a hand, sign up on the email list for volunteer opportunities in the Umpqua National Forest.

About The

Juliet Grable
Juliet Grable is a freelance writer and volunteer firefighter who lives in the Greensprings, a mountain community in Oregon’s southern Cascades. She loves exploring the region with her husband, Brint, and their dog, Roca. She’s happiest when hiking, birding, skiing or kayaking.

Trip Ideas