Hiking is one of the primary activities to which I default when traveling. It is enjoyable, it lets you explore a new place, and it’s (nearly always) free. If a true hike isn’t available, a walk through a new city will do nearly as well.
Last weekend my brother-in-law and I took a quick vacation to southern Oregon. The first day included seeing Crater Lake, and the second day included two hikes, one of which was up Lower Table Rock near Medford.
Preparing to hike Table Rock
Our original plan was to hike Table rock mid-morning, but given the heat, we decided to swap our itinerary around. We would head out to hike near Lake of the Woods (cooler, and at a much higher altitude) during the morning. Our hike up Table Rock was then slated for the evening.
I looked up how to get to Table Rock using Google Maps. The route is pretty simple. You can get to Table Rock Road easily from the Highway 62 exit, heading north toward Crater Lake. Immediately turn left onto Biddle Road, as if you are heading to the Rogue Valley Airport. Then make a right when you intersect with Table Rock Road.
You continue on this road for a few miles before turning onto Wheeler Road, right along the base of Lower Table Rock.
The trailhead was pretty easy to find, although I did initially blast by the turn off for Wheeler Road and had to turn around. It was still pretty warm when we arrived, but I knew things would get better as we climbed. I was *so* glad we didn’t hike Table Rock in the middle of the day!!
Hiking Table Rock
Looking up at Table Rock above us, I knew the hike was going to be moderately strenuous. The trail climbs quickly from the trailhead. There are some switchbacks, but at other times it’s simply a steep ascent. I didn’t realize how steep it was until we were heading down and I was trying not to lose my footing on the gravel path.
The lower part of the trail is through oak woodland. There were some wildflowers, although we were likely past the best of their display.
Soon we were under some larger trees, and unfortunately sheltered from the much-appreciated breeze. The switchbacks up the hill continued, and I couldn’t wait to break out on top of Table Rock.
Poison oak is abundant along the trail. The trail is wide enough that brushing up against it shouldn’t be a concern, but definitely take note.
Top of Table Rock
A little over halfway through the hike we reached the top of Table Rock. The hard part was over. Now we just had a long stretch of flat trail that led us to the edge of the rock overlooking the Rogue Valley and Medford. The breeze at the top was also wonderful!
It took us another 15 minutes or so to reach the edge of Table Rock. The views were spectacular! Off to the east you could see the volcanic cone of Mount McLoughlin, and out to the west the Rogue Valley. Medford was in the middle, off in the distance.
We just sat and took everything in for several minutes. The temperature was now perfect, hovering in the upper 70s.
If I lived here, I’d definitely be hiking Table Rock routinely. Actually, who am I kidding? I probably wouldn’t. I hardly hike the redwoods anymore, and those are basically at my doorstep all the time.
Since my phone lacks panorama capability, I had to make do with a video. I’m desperately in need of a new smartphone so I can actually take some decent photos.
The trip down was substantially easier than our trek up. We made our way back along the flat trail on top of Table Rock. As the sun was getting lower on the horizon, we had a little bit of fun with the shadows.
Soon enough we were heading back down the steep trail. I took a picture of Upper Table Rock before the sun dropped below the horizon completely.
It didn’t take long to reach the trailhead again. All in all, the hike was maybe 2 hours. We could have explored more of the top of Table Rock, but we had a date at Cold Stone that we couldn’t miss.
Hiking Table Rock should definitely be on your list if you plan to spend any time in or near Medford, Oregon. It is a great experience, and the view of the valley is gorgeous. The hike is also not very long, and easily doable in under a half day. Along with Crater Lake, the Oregon Caves, and historic Jacksonville, there is plenty to do and see in southern Oregon. Hopefully you can enjoy a trip to the area someday!