How to Hike Roseburg [Without Foot or Ankle Pain]
If you like going for nice walks or long hikes, Roseburg and Douglas County is the place to be!
Here in the Umpqua River Valley, with easy access to the ocean, the national forest, and the mountains, you can pretty much pick whatever kind of glorious scenery you enjoy best.
(Then again, even just sticking around your local neighborhood park can be a rewarding adventure, too.)
If you want to know how to hike around Roseburg, you basically need to know two things:
- Where to go
- How to do it safely and without pain or injury
Fortunately, we can put you in the right direction on both counts!
Top Places to Go Hiking Around Roseburg
There’s truly a stunning amount of glorious hikes within an easy day trip of our hometown—far more than we could ever cover here. That said, here are a few suggestions to get you started. After that, you can start exploring more options on your own!
Susan Creek Falls Trail
This is an ace trail for beginners, and could be the one that turns a newbie into a hiker for life.
It’s quite easy, with only a moderate climb and grade. It’s short, at just under 2 miles total out and back. And there’s a stunning 60-foot misty waterfall to bask in and enjoy for as long as you like.
It’s also conveniently located just off Highway 138, about 30 miles east of Roseburg. (Do watch out for poison oak, though!)
North Umpqua Trail System
Beautiful multi-use trails follow the North Umpqua river for almost 80 miles, climbing more than 4,000 feet in the process from Swiftwater Park in Glide to the river’s source at Maidu Lake.
There are 12 trailheads leading to sections that vary in length from under 4 miles to more than 15. While no portion of this system could be described as “easy,” there are some beautiful and more moderate sections, including the “Mott” and “Panther” trails.
One moderate difficulty hike of particular note is the Marsters Trail. Although less than 4 miles in length, you get a great bird’s-eye view of the river. You’ll also come across an old-growth forest grove with 800-year-old, 7-foot-wide trees. And if you visit in the next week or two, you might still catch the end of spawning season for the Chinnok salmon returning to weeping rocks.
If you’re experienced and feeling ambitious, you might take a couple of days and try some of the more challenging sections, including the 13-mile “Dread and Terror” route up the mountain and past gorgeous waterfalls, or perhaps the 9-mile climb to Maidu Lake from the Valley trailhead.
Boulder Creek Wilderness
This 19,000 acre section of the Umpqua National Forest features more than 30 miles of hiking trails. The namesake Boulder Creek Trail follows the river for about 6 miles, and beginners might want to stop there.
More experienced hikers up for some step climbs can continue up the ridge, through old-growth forest and past a natural spring. You’ll also get a nice view of Boulder Creek Gorge.
Make Sure Your Feet Are Up for the Task
So hopefully we’ve whetted your appetite for exploration a bit, and you’re ready to go hit the trail! Or maybe you’ve already hit the trail, and enjoyed it immensely … for a couple of miles. Then your feet started to hurt.
Hold up a second.
If you’re going to tackle some of Southwest Oregon’s toughest hikes—or even some of the easier or more moderate ones—you’re going to need to think about how to prepare and care for your feet.
Because when you’re out on the trail, 4 miles from the road and 7 miles from your vehicle, “taking it easy on your feet” isn’t really an option. And that’s a bad place for bad pain or fatigue to set in.
Here are a few handy tips to keep your feet happy, wherever they end up taking you.
Find Your Perfect Pair of Hiking Boots
The right pair of hiking shoes or boots can make a huge difference.
A good set will keep your feet cozy and warm, protected from the elements, stable on rugged terrain, and less likely to develop blisters or other injuries. A poor set while wreck your feet before you’re halfway up the ridge.
The first step, obviously, is finding a pair that fits. There are a couple of things to keep in mind here when you shop:
- Wear your trail socks when trying on hiking boots—wearing socks that are thinner or thicker than what you expect to wear on the trail will alter the fit.
- Go shopping at the end of the day. Why? Well, feet tend to swell a bit at the end of a long day, and they’re definitely going to swell a bit during a long hike. You’ll want to make sure your hiking shoes still fit your feet even when they’re at their greatest size.
- Ideally you want a snug (but not too tight) fit around the heels and the balls of your feet, while still giving your toes plenty of wiggle room.
You’ll also want your hiking footwear to reflect the style, terrain, and difficulty of your hike.
Taking a few spins around the park on paved trails? A casual pair of walking shoes might be all you need. Planning to do some rugged mountaineering? You’ll want something sturdier and heavier, with wider and more rigid sole for stability and a higher ankle cut for support and defense against sprains.
Remember that there are trade-offs with each style. You wouldn’t want to wear ordinary athletic shoes up a rugged climb, but you wouldn’t want to power walk the neighborhood in mountaineering shoes, either. Each style has a specific task.
Get the Socks You Need
For most short and day hike applications, a good pair of breathable, moisture-wicking trail hiking socks should do the trick. They should cling tightly to your feet (to reduce friction, and thus blisters) and also keep your feet as dry as possible.
Many “hardcore” hikers who enjoy multi-day expeditions recommend a two-sock system. You wear your breathable trail socks on the inside, and a heavier wool sock on the outside. The main reasons for this?
- The outer sock absorbs the moisture wicked away by the inner sock, keeping it away from your feet.
- Any friction in the system due to minute problems with fitting is likely to occur between the sock layers, rather than directly on your skin.
Always pack extra socks in case the ones you are wearing get wet.
Stay Awake and Aware
The ups and downs of the Umpqua River Valley and the Cascades, combined with a lot of rugged, unpaved wilderness trails, can represent a real danger to your feet and ankles if you aren’t careful.
Losing focus for a couple of minutes, or even a couple of seconds, could mean a rolled ankle or a trip over an unexpected tree root. (Or maybe even some unwanted contact with poison oak!) So make sure you always stay totally aware of your surroundings and watch where you’re stepping!
A related point: know the trail! At the very least, know exactly how far you plan to go, have a map and compass on hand, and pay close attention to your surroundings. We know most people increasingly rely on their phone GPS to get them from place to place (we’re guilty, too), but batteries can die. Signal can be lost. When that happens, you’ll need to rely on your wits!
Carry Emergency Gear
The amount of gear you carry will, of course, depend on how long a hike you plan to take, weather conditions, how isolated the trail is, etc. That said, some key items to consider packing include:
- First aid supplies, including bandages, splints, and blister pads.
- Plenty of potable water and food.
- A flashlight or headlamp with plenty of juice.
- A pocket knife.
- A space blanket.
- An extra pair of socks (or two).
- Duct tape.
- Sunscreen and bug spray.
- A rain poncho, or even a spare garbage bag, to help shut out the rain.
- A spare battery or power bank for your cell phone.
- Emergency shelter, fire-making tools, water treatment tablets (if you’re planning a multi-day hike out in the middle of nowhere).
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
Whether you hike alone or with a buddy, you should always make sure someone back home knows where you are, knows your agenda, and knows when you plan to be back. Make it a point to check in with this person before and after you go.
Should the worst happen—you get lost or you get hurt, with no way to call for help and no idea when the next person will be around—having someone who knows at least approximately where you are and when you’re supposed to return can be the difference between getting help quickly or not getting it at all.
Enjoy Your Hike!
Whether you’re planning a 5-day excursion all the way from Roseburg to Maidu Lake, or just a 45-minute spin to the waterfall and back, we hope you have a great time!
Either way, if your feet are hurting, we’d love to help. From heel pain to ankle sprains to neuromas and more, we provide comprehensive treatment and care for virtually all painful foot and ankle conditions.
And we can help you manage your long-term injury risk, too, with proactive options such as custom orthotics.
Our region is so stunningly beautiful, with so many epic hikes to go on—it’d be a shame to let painful feet stand in your way! Fortunately, you don’t have to. Instead, you can give us a call and let us help. Just dial (541) 673-0742 today.