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.
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.