Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint encompasses one of the most incredible sections of the entire Rogue River. Only an hour north of Medford, this system of easy trails will lead you to some of the grandest views southern Oregon has to offer.
Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls: The Rogue’s two highest waterfalls on one short trail! Drive north on Crater Lake Highway (Highway 62), turn right on Mill Creek Road just past milepost 42 and follow the signs to the trailhead on the right. Hike down to the junction where a sign points left to Avenue of the Giant Boulders, and right to the falls. Go right. After about a quarter mile hike through a forest of pine and madrone trees, you’ll hear the thundering rush of Mill Creek Falls from across the canyon as it plunges 173 feet into the river. Then hike a little farther to see Barr Creek Falls, which gently snakes down the mossy cliffside before falling 150 feet onto the rocks below.
Avenue of the Giant Boulders: Hike back to the junction and follow the sign to the Boulders. These massive rocks (some as big as a house) were under water until the 1920s, when a hydroelectric damn that was constructed a few miles upriver lowered the water level. This is a great place to get up close and personal with the raging Rogue. Scramble around to find hidden little waterfalls and still pools. But be careful: One slip into the river can be lethal! And due to the dam, the water levels can rise quickly. To see the boulders from above, hike back to your car and driver another quarter mile to a parking area on the right just beyond Mill Creek Bridge (called Prospect Bridge by locals). On a clear day you can see Mt. McLoughlin in the distance beyond the canyon. A short, narrow trail takes you underneath the 90-year-old bridge for even more views.
Pearsony Falls: The final trailhead (and the only one with a rest room) is a minute’s drive up the road on the right. Take the short hike down to Pearsony Creek, which splits into two mossy, rocky waterfalls. Then keep following the trail along the lush banks of the creek until it opens up at the river for one final view of the bridge, the boulders and Rogue River Canyon. If you head out from Ashland early enough, you can see everything described above and still make it to Crater Lake by mid-afternoon!
Gear: Oregon weather can range from fall like conditions in the morning, spring at lunch and winter in the afternoon. Remember to bring the proper gear along with you including multiple layers to keep warm and water shoes for hiking.
About NewmanImages: We are Jay and Sue Newman, two seasoned weekend wanderers who know where to find beauty in any direction from Ashland. You can find prints and greeting cards of the Rogue’s mightiest waterfalls in our booth at the Ashland Artisan Emporium in the Ashland Shopping Center on Highway 66. (Walk in, take a right, go to the 2nd row from the end, we’re the first booth on the right.)