The Umpqua River derived its name from the Umpqua Indian Tribe, a band of the Coquille Tribe of Indians. Several different Indian tribes inhabited the Umpqua River Valley for many years. The primary tribes that inhabited the valley consisted of the Upper Umpqua, Cow Creek, the Kalapuyan (Calapooia) and the Lower Umpqua tribes. The Umpqua was named in 1825 by David Douglas, a British horticulturist who was traveling the area. The North West Company entered the Umpqua Valley in 1819 and the Umpqua was a favorite for their trappers. They worked the area for several years trapping beavers for their pelts. In 1836 a fur trading post, Fort Umpqua, was built in an area that is now known as Elkton. This trading post remained in operation until 1854 and was the first non-native settlement in Oregon south of the Willamette Valley.
The Umpqua River is comprised of three parts: The Main Umpqua which stretches approximately 111 miles from Roseburg to the Pacific Ocean at Winchester Bay. At the 111 mile mark in Roseburg the North and South forks of the Umpqua River come together. The North Umpqua River is world renowned. Every year thousands of visitors from all over the world spend a portion of their summer exploring the beauty and wonders of the North Umpqua.
The North Umpqua originates in the high Cascades. It starts in Maidu Lake in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness area and flows through the mountains and valleys on a westward journey through the Umpqua National Forest. Along the way many small creeks and streams flow into the North Umpqua, including Steamboat Creek. In the small town of Glide, OR, the North Umpqua meets up with Little River at a spot known as Colliding Rivers. From here the river continues westward to Roseburg where it ends its 110 mile journey and joins with the South Umpqua to form the Main or Lower Umpqua River. The North Umpqua is known as one of the best fly fishing areas in the Northwest. It is also known for its salmon and steelhead fishing and has some wonderful white water rafting areas that range from a class I to class V in difficulty.
The South Umpqua River originates at the edge of the Rogue-Umpqua divide. This is a much more open and drier forest landscape than the area where the North Umpqua begins. From the Rogue-Umpqua Divide, the South Umpqua flows northwest for 115 miles to Roseburg where it meets with the North Umpqua. One of the amazing natural wonders of the South Umpqua is South Umpqua Falls. These natural falls are located in Tiller, OR. The South Umpqua has much warmer water temperatures and a much lower flow in the summer than the North Umpqua. The primary tributary of the South Umpqua is Cow Creek which flows into the river near Canyonville, OR. In the dry summer months the flow of the North Umpqua is twenty times greater than the flow of the South Umpqua. Although there is a large fall run of salmon on the South Umpqua, fishing for them is illegal on this fork of the river. However, winter Steelhead can be fished on this river from December through early March. The South Umpqua is also known for its small mouth bass fishing from early spring through the summer months.
The Main or Lower Umpqua is the river formed by the joining of the North and South branches of the river. This portion of the river provides fishing opportunities year round. On the lower portion of the river between the mouth of the river and Scottsburg there is salmon fishing in the fall and spring, steelhead fishing in the winter and summer, and sturgeon fishing year round. This portion of the Umpqua also provides striped bass fishing. Further up the Main Umpqua, around the Elkton area, starts the area for small mouth bass and shad fishing along with salmon and steelhead.
The Umpqua drains a huge network of mounts and valleys west of the Cascade Mountain Range. This breathtaking area of Oregon is also known as the Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua. The entire Umpqua River and all if its tributaries originate and end in Douglas County.
Trails & Waterfalls
Boulder Creek is one of the many tributaries to the North Umpqua River. This creek is a spawning site for many of the salmon and steelhead that travel up the North Umpqua in the spring and fall. The trail is a total of 15.2 miles long and consists of two portions. The first portion is 4.6 miles and the second is 10.6 miles long. The creek is comprised of pools, rapids and small waterfalls and winds its way through a deep canyon. Pine Bench, which is located along this trail, is a forested plateau that was created when a basalt flow poured down the North Umpqua River Canyon several thousand years ago. The plateau is covered with ponderosa pine and is especially beautiful in the spring when the wild flowers are blooming. Along this trail the formation of the Cascades by ancient volcanoes can be seen in their entire splendor. Within the Boulder Creek area lies the 1,420 acre Umpqua Rocks Geologic Area. This area boasts basalt and andesite spires including Rattlesnake Rock, Old Man Rock, Old Woman rock and Eagle Rock.
Toketee Falls is a relatively easy one-third of a mile hike through Douglas fir, Western Hemlock and Red Cedar trees. It is well known throughout the Northwest as one of the most beautiful waterfalls Oregon has to offer. The waterfall is an impressive 113 feet high. It consists of two tiers, the first of which drops 28 ft. into a pool in a deep alcove. The water then flows from the pool plunges 85 ft. into a second large, crystal clear pool. Toketee is a Chinook word meaning graceful and these falls certainly are.
The trail into Watson Falls is just 1.2 miles long. It winds its way through a beautiful forested area to a 272 ft. high waterfall. Watson Falls is Oregon’s second highest waterfall. The escarpment that creates the water flow for Watson Falls is the nose of a giant lava flow that came from the Mount Bailey area near Diamond Lake approximately 750,000 years ago. This is a beautiful waterfall that ends in a pool of water that flows into Watson Creek. A wooden footbridge that crosses over Watson Creek provides a perfect view of these falls. This trail is rated as difficult, but is well worth the breathtaking view.
Steamboat Falls flow into Steamboat Creek, a steelhead spawning tributary to the North Umpqua River. The trail to these falls is short and easy to navigate. Although this is a small waterfall, only 25 ft. in height, it is beautiful to see. During the months of May through October visitors can watch Steelhead attempt to jump to the top of the falls.
Susan Creek Falls
A short, easy .8 mile trail will take hikers to the falls. Susan Creek Falls is a 50 ft. high fan type waterfall that flows over rock cliffs and is lined with beautiful dark green moss and ferns. Once the falls are reached, a more difficult .4 mile trail can be taken to the Susan Creek Indian Mounds. The Indian Mounds are said to be where young Indian boys, preparing for manhood, would spend the night alone. During their overnight stay they would build stone piles and search for a vision from their guardian spirit.
South Umpqua Falls
South Umpqua falls is a natural water fall on the South Umpqua River. It is created by a section of riverbed that is formed of bedrock. The bedrock bottom of the river forms pools before the river drops 15 feet into a deep pool. There is an observation deck to view the falls as well as a man made fish ladder. Access to the fish ladder is prohibited. South Umpqua Falls also provides a picnic area and is well known throughout southern Douglas County as a great swimming hole during the warm summer months.
North Umpqua trail
The North Umpqua Trail was started in 1978. It was begun with the vision of extending a trail from Rock Creek, a tributary of the North Umpqua River, located in Idleyld Park, OR and ending high in the Cascades. This trail was created to provide the choices of hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking. The surroundings provide phenomenal photography, fishing and sightseeing opportunities. The trail follows along the North Umpqua River for 79 miles and was finished in 1997. It consists of 11 segments and each segment expands a different section of the river as well as portions of the expansive, lush, and beautifully green North Umpqua National Forest. Below is a list of each segment, its difficulty and length. Whether you visit one portion of the trail or many, you are guaranteed to experience nature and beauty like you have never seen it before.
Length: 15.7 miles
Difficulty Level: Difficult with steep terrain and long distance
Trailheads: Swiftwater and Wright Creek
Length: 5.5 miles
Trailheads: Wright Creek and Mott
Length: 5 miles
Trailheads: Wright Creek and Panther Creek
Length: 3.7 MILES
Trailheads: Panther Creek and Calf Creek
Length: 3.6 miles
Trailheads: Calf Creek and Marsters
Jessie Wright Segment-
Length: 4.1 miles
Trailheads: Marsters and Soda Springs
Deer Leap Segment-
Length: 9.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate (west to east direction), difficult (east to west direction)
Trailheads: Soda Springs and Toketee Lake
Hot Springs Segment-
Length: 3.5 miles
Trailheads: Toketee Lake and Hot Springs
Dread & Terror Segment-
Length: 13 miles
Trailheads: Hot Springs and White Mule
Length: 6.3 miles
Trailheads: White Mule and Kelsay Valley
Length: 9 miles
Trailheads: Kelsay Valley and Digit Point Access