West Fork Humptulips Trail – Humpnoochee Pass to Gorge Bridge Trailhead

My friend and guidebook author Craig Romano invited me along on this trip. Craig's book, Day Hiking the Olympic Peninsula is due for its second edition, and with that comes more research for Craig. In the first edition, Craig describes a 5 mile section of the West Fork Humptulips. On this expedition, we explored the whole trail. From the top of Humpnoochee Pass (giggle), all the way to the other end at the Gorge Bridge Trailhead.

In order to do the whole trail, we would have to back track a little. We began at the Upper West Fork Humptulips Trailhead and hiked up to Humpnoochee Pass from there. Humpnoochee Pass gets its funny name because it is the divide between the West Fork Humptulips and the Wynoochee drainages. The sign at the trailhead says 1-1/2 miles to the pass but I think it may have been a tad further than that, but not by much. Maybe 2-10ths of a mile or so. I do have the complete track on the map below, but it was recorded from my cell phone which is not highly accurate. The top of Humpnoochee pass is actually an abandoned forest Service road marked as NF 200 on Google Maps.

Not being able to see the tread very well since it was overgrown with tall grass, Craig stepped in a hole at the pass and twisted his ankle slightly which gave him a little trouble the rest of the weekend. Nothing serious enough to stop the hike however. The cool waters of the Humptulips which we would be fording several times would hopefully keep any swelling down.

The pass is really nice, considering it's an old road. It has some great views. You could access Elk Lake from up here as an off trail adventure if that's your thing. We took pictures, looked around a little and were soon headed back down to the trailhead where we started from. From the trailhead, the trail crosses the road and continues going downhill. The trailhead on the downhill side of the road was overgrown pretty bad, but once on the trail it was OK. Well, off and on it was OK. There were some spots that were really grown over, and actually throughout much of the day, we experienced spots of severely overgrown trail. Some places you could tell had been worked on in the last few years while others looked like they hadn't been touched since the trail was built. In a few spots, I wasn't sure how Craig could even see where we were supposed to go, it was so thick and choked with brush. I was glad he was leading the way.

Further down the trail, it crosses the Humptulips River several times. All in all we counted 27 crossings of the river that we had to ford each time - no bridges. This could be the ultimate hot weather hike. Very fun. The trail parallels the 2204 forest road and is never too far away but I swear I never heard a single vehicle all day except for when we passed through the Campbell Tree Grove campground. The trail also has junctions with the Petes Creek Trail and the Switchback Trail which I suppose a person could use if they wanted to do a shorter portion of the trail.

 

Upper Trailhead
Upper Trailhead - Photo courtesy - Craig Romano
Old abandoned road on Humpnoochee Pass
The view from Humpnoochee Pass
Yours Truly at Humnoochee Pass - Photo courtesy - Craig Romano
Finished with the upper section, we crossed the road and headed down from there. As you can see, the trailhead was pretty brushy. It doesn't look like this section sees much use
Brushy upper section.
It wasn't all brush-bashing. The berries were ripe too. - Photo courtesy - Craig Romano
This was the first crossing that required getting your feet wet. If you hope to do the Humptulips River trail and rock hop across the fords, you'll be in for a bad time. While only ankle deep in most places, there were a few crossings during the day that came over the knees.
Craig at one of several fords during the hike.
A section of trail along the way. - Photo courtesy - Craig Romano
A view from the trail.
Craig taking notes at (in) one of the crossings.
Craig fording the Humptulips again.
Another ford
West Fork Shelter
Petes Creek Trail junction.
Another crossing of the Hump.
The trickiest part of hiking the Humptulips River Trail is knowing where to find the trail on the other side of a crossing. When we hiked it, there was flagging set up all along the way. A more permanent solution like those big signs they use on the coast would be awesome, but with so many crossings, I'm not sure it would be a practical thing to set up.
Craig holding his WTA Hikathon mascot.
Nice views on this hike.
Some really big old growth along the river.
There were a few old and some newer log jams in the river that the trail goes around.
We ran into this WTA youth crew a few miles from the Gorge Bridge Trailhead.
Are we there yet? Craig at yet another crossing.
Craig indicating this is the 25th crossing for the day. We ended the day with 27 crossings.
While it was super brushy along the upper sections, the closer we got to the Gorge Bridge Trailhead, the better shape the trail was in.
All in all it was a super fun day and believe it or not, my wet feet survived mostly unscathed. - Photo courtesy - Craig Romano

Driving Directions: From the Forest Service Website. "From Aberdeen, WA travel north on US Highway 101 for 25 miles to Forest Service Road 22/Donkey Creek Road. Turn right on Donkey creek Road and travel 8 miles to junction of Forest Service Road 2204. Turn left on Forest Service Road 2204 and travel 17 miles to Upper West Fork Humptulips Trailhead."Alternatively, if you know where the Petes Creek Trailhead is, continue past it on FS2204 for about 6 or 6 1/2 miles to the Upper West Fork Humptulips Trailhead. The road gets kind of rocky and a little rough but nothing a sedan can't drive up if caution is used. If you want to do a shorter section, try accessing the trail from the Petes Creek trailhead, the Switchback Trailhead or the Gorge Trailhead, all of which are along FS2204.

Click here to learn more about Craig Romano and some of the books he has written.

Click here to view other hikes I've done with Craig.

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8 thoughts on “West Fork Humptulips Trail – Humpnoochee Pass to Gorge Bridge Trailhead

  • March 28, 2016 at 8:53 pm
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    I love the Humpnoochee Pass but I have only done it in the rain so haven’t seen the views. I don’t think I’ve made the tpo of the pass though. I turned around wnen the road was half collapsed and completely blocked by reed canarygrass. 27 fords in 19 miles is incredible! How long did it take?

    Reply
    • March 29, 2016 at 10:52 am
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      I couldn’t remember so I looked at the times on the GPS file. Well, we were certainly not in a big hurry. It looks like we started at 10:40 in the morning and finished at 7:45 that evening. Just a little over 9 hours. We got off to a late start but thankfully there is plenty of daylight that time of year.

      Reply
  • March 29, 2016 at 6:34 am
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    Can’t wait to do this hike. I’ll be working with others on the Pete’s Creek trail this summer. Gorgeous place. And yes, pink marking flags will be the trail indicators (for now).Thank you for the great photos and trail report, Jay and Craig!

    Reply
    • March 29, 2016 at 10:57 am
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      That’s awesome Theresa! Are you working on the upper portion of Pete’s up to Colonel Bob or just the part down to the river? The Hump certainly needs some attention in a few spots. There were a few down trees, but it needs brushing out more than anything else. Glad you enjoyed the report!

      Reply
      • May 10, 2016 at 6:35 am
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        Hi Jay 🙂 Finally made the Humpnoochee yesterday. LOVE! So cool for a Harbor girl to see both the Humptulips and Wynoochee Valleys from such a spectacular vantage point. The Back Country Horsemen are working the trail from Upper Pete’s all the way to the Gorge Bridge PLUS adding a section in order to create a loop. Grant money has been gifted as well as permission. This plan has been in place for some time and it is finally happening. We began working last month and have some highly-skilled sawyers working with us. Very fun project!

        Reply
        • May 15, 2016 at 9:31 am
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          Nice! Glad to see the Hump getting some attention. I hope that upper stretch from Campbell Tree Grove to the Pass gets looked at – or maybe it already has since last year? It was really brushy and hard to follow in a few places it was so overgrown. Super cool that a loop is being built. Thanks for sharing!

          Reply
  • May 10, 2016 at 6:39 am
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    Orange tape is being used to mark the trails, not pink! 🙂

    Reply
    • May 15, 2016 at 9:33 am
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      🙂

      Reply

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