Upper Table Rock: A Great Family Hike

Located in the northern section of the Rogue Valley between Medford and Grants Pass sit two imposing mesas: Upper and Lower Table Rocks. Rising hundreds of feet above the surrounding landscape, these flat-topped monoliths provide excellent views of Mt. McLoughlin, the Rogue River, and the communities of the Rogue Valley.

Easy to access from I-5, Upper and Lower Table Rocks are a popular destination for hikers. Both mesas boast incredible views, leg-burning elevation gains, and well-maintained trails. If it weren’t for the straight uphill slog and lack of shade, I would consider Upper Table Rock to be a freeway.

Mt. McLoughlin in the hazy distance; there was a wildfire the day we went. It’s much easier to see in person.

Mt. McLoughlin in the hazy distance; there was a wildfire the day we went. It’s much easier to see in person.

From the south, go north on I-5 and take exit 33 for E. Pine Street. Follow signs for Eagle Point and merge right onto E. Pine Street. E. Pine Street will turn into Biddle Road. Continue for about half a mile until you make a left turn onto Table Rock Road. You’ll be on Table Rock Road for about five miles until you have to make a right onto Modoc Road.

There are two parking lots, one on either side of the road. Get here early to snag a parking spot in the paved lot on the left side of the road. The right side parking lot is a gravel overflow lot. The paved lot has bus and RV parking as well.

Remnants of lava rock on top of the mesa. The communities of the Rogue Valley below.

Remnants of lava rock on top of the mesa. The communities of the Rogue Valley below.

There are two permanent pit toilets in the parking lot. They’re fairly well-maintained and clean. There are also trash cans here and an informational map showing the trail, flora and fauna information, and warnings about rattlesnakes.

The trail is easy to find, and there are no forks. Just follow the trail straight up the side of the mesa. While there is shade along the trail, I recommend going in the morning. Not only will it be cooler, but there will also be fewer people to share the trail with.

The view to the south. The Siskiyou range and more of the Rogue Valley.

The view to the south. The Siskiyou range and more of the Rogue Valley.

This is a mostly chaparral and oak savannah plant community. You’ll find manzanita, madrone, and oaks. In early May, there were plenty of wildflowers along the trail, but on the top of the mesa the vernal pools had already dried up.

There is a split in the trail once you reach the top of the mesa. We took the split to the left and wandered along the edge of the trail. It was here that we rested and let the babies out of their carriers. While Al fed the girls, I snapped a few photos of the Siskiyou range to the south and Mt. McLoughlin to the northeast.

Rocks, trees, wildflowers, and views make for a beautiful hike.

Rocks, trees, wildflowers, and views make for a beautiful hike.

Remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and hats. There are few trees on the mesa, and the sun can be brutal.

We saw plenty of other families with babies, young children, and teens. It’s a popular family hike. It’s close to town and not a challenging hike. You can see the entire Rogue Valley from the top of this mesa.

The trail going off into the distance. The top of the mesa is flat and spotted with wildflowers and grasses.

The trail going off into the distance. The top of the mesa is flat and spotted with wildflowers and grasses.

We took the same trail back to the parking lot. Going down with the girls in their carriers is always a fun challenge of balance and proper weight distribution. Both girls did a great job: they didn’t get too fussy and had plenty of smiles for passers-by.

Overall, Upper Table Rock is the perfect weekend morning hike for a family. So if you’re looking for things to do with kids in the Rogue Valley or near Medford, then definitely head on over to Upper Table Rock.