Exploring the North Umpqua Trail

Or, alternatively titled "The First Time We Both Left Henry Overnight Since He Was Born."

Prepare for a photo deluge because this trip was all about the scenery (for me) and miles (for Pete). This summer, the manfriend/husband/Pete has been training for the McKenzie River 50K, so many of his weekend mornings consist of running 15-20+ miles. When we started talking about what we wanted to do this summer (I love writing a good summer bucket list), the North Umpqua Trail was high up there for me. So, we put it on the calendar and asked my mom to watch Henry so we could head about 1.5 hrs south for a weekend of camping and running.

Just a couple 'a parents who are heading out of town without the kiddo overnight for the first time since he was born (2+ years ago)!!

Before heading south, I consulted a runner friend Raina who lives much closer to the North Umpqua Trail (NUT) for advice on good sections to run and camping. She recommended Susan Creek Campground, which has heated showers AND real bathrooms, so when we pulled in Saturday afternoon and there were still a few spots left, we snagged one! 

We set up our tent, had a snack and then suited up for an hour run on the trial. The North Umpqua Trail is 79 miles long and is open to runners, hikers, horses and mountain bikers. There are several trailheads along the way as well as campgrounds. 

Hiker/runner tip: If you're planning to explore the trail, be sure to pick up a trail map at a ranger station or one of the campgrounds. A runner who stopped into Run Hub a week before we went happened to have an extra one in his car one day and gave it to us, which was so helpful. It talks in detail about each section of the trail. 

Running over the Tioga Bridge on the Tioga segment of the trail

Hot, hard run, but the views were pretty sweet from the Tioga bridge. 

Big trees

Once we were sufficiently hot and tired, we turned around and ran back to camp. The run was shortly followed by a cold beer and showers to make sure we didn't have any poison oak on us (there's a lot of it along the trail). 

Besides being my first night away from Henry since he was born and not have to worry about another little human for 30 hours, it was really nice to not have much cell service at the campsite. We could text, but that's about it and it was a nice break from social media and an opportunity to just slow down and relax. 

Sunday, we woke up with the sun (as you do when camping) and started the fire, coffee and pancake making. 

Around 9 a.m., we were packed up and ready to hit the road for Pete's long run. We had scoped out a few sections of the trail that weren't too hard (or easy, although I'm not sure any of that trail is "easy") or long and pieced them together for his 20 mile run. 

Happy feet = a well fitting shoe and new Stance socks to keep the brush and dirt off the legs. 

Because it was going to get hot and we figured it would be fun to see more of the trail, I opted to run a bit and make sure he had plenty of water and fuel at a few stops. I dropped Pete off at the Marsters Trailhead/Jessie Wright Segment and then leapfrogged ahead 4 miles to Soda Springs Trailhead where I met him and ran/hiked about 8 miles total on the Deer Leap section. 

These rock formations at Soda Springs were pretty cool. 

He was looking good at Soda Springs (4 miles done), so I started up the trail as he refueled at the car. 

Medicine Springs was a happy little surprise among the forest of trees and one of only TWO other people we saw on the trail was sitting and reading by it as I ran by. 

Pete finished the 9.6 mile Deer Leap section and I met him at Toketee Lake after lots of elevation gain and drop on his part. Then I said goodbye as he headed out on his last section, an out and back from Toketee to the Hot Springs Trailhead (3.5 miles each way). 

I headed off with the goal of soaking my feet in the Umpqua Hot Springs. My 8 mile jaunt had left my legs plenty tired (plus, I've been dealing with this hip flexor and foot issue since the marathon), so I was excited for the hot springs and the view. 

Visitor tip: You'll need to buy a $5 day pass at the Umpqua Hot Springs trailhead to park, but they do accept cash, check or cc #. Also, it's a steep 1/4 mile hike up to the hot springs. Definitely not what I would have expected.

You can't really tell here, but the hot springs are situated high above the Umpqua River. It was so cool to look down on them, and to see the 7 or so different tiered hot spring pools. Clothing is optional, but thankfully most people were clothed. ;)

After a 15-20 min soak, I clambered back down to my car and went to pick up the tired runner. We both took the opportunity to take a refreshing cold water bath at the Toketee Lake Trailhead. It took your breathe away, but I'm sure it was beneficial. And just like that, Pete did 20 miles with 4,800 ft of climbing.

By that point it was around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, so we had some food and hopped back in the car to head back to Eugene to see our little man. 

Overall, I'd say our weekend was a success. We saw so many great sights along the trail, enjoyed camping off the grid and ran on a new trail. Whether it's the NUT, or a trail near you that you've always wondered about, just go! 

Happy trails


What an awesome getaway! The pictures are all so gorgeous. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area of the country! I'm a bit envious. I mean Minnesota is beautiful in its own way but we don't quite have the beauty that you have in the NW!

You guys packed a lot of activity into your 30 hours away so I bet you slept well when you got back to Henry!
Amber said…
That sounds like such an awesome getaway - especially for the first one without Henry!! So cool that trail has so many different trail heads AND hot springs to boot. Also awesome you snagged a spot at a campground with showers - a must for a running / camping weekend like that one! I echo what Lisa said, so cool you guys have that practically in your backyard!!

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