An easy hike just a short drive outside of Port AngelesGentle grade trail through beautiful second growth forestHistorical ruins of an old pioneer homestead

When Whiskey Bend Road turns off of the fabled US-101 along the remote Olympic Peninsula's northern coast, it climbs along the Elwha River--an incredible testament to nature's restorative abilities.  For a century, a hydroelectric dam blocked the Elwha's flow into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the reciprocal runs of Salmon each year.  Though the dam was only demolished in 2012, the landscape--and the fish--have already begun to return to their former glory.

The trail to Humes Ranch begins at the end of Whiskey Bend Road and cuts, with little elevation gain, through stands of second-growth pine on a hillside above the thundering Elwha.  Periodic breaks in the foliage reveal views of the verdant valley below and the river's azure flow.

A series of trails connect the upper Humes Ranch Trail to a riverside trail just a short jaunt down the steep hillside.  The first of these connectors opens along the Elwha directly above a section of whitewater known as the Goblin Gates.  The Goblin Gates funnel the frigid torrent through their jagged, granite spires and were an impediment to early expeditions into the Olympics' interior at the end of the 19th century.

Several spots upstream from the gates feature waters calm enough for a brisk, refreshing dip on a hot summer day, but be careful to not venture too far out into the current as it can be deceptively strong.

Along the river, don't be surprised to see herds of Roosevelt Elk, an occasional Black Bear, Mule Deer, or Bald Eagle. Though rare, cougars can be found by the river as well. Huge, green ferns line the trail here in the lowlands, blanketing the forest floor between white pine, western hemlock, red cedar, and douglas fir.

The trail eventually turns steeply back uphill where it reconnects with the main Humes Ranch trail shortly before opening up into the ranch area itself.  Here, find abandoned apple orchards that still produce fruit in late summer.  The main cabin sits at the edge of an old clearing and just above a separate field dotted with massive old-growth douglas firs.  This field is a perfect spot to spend the night close to the banks of the Elwha (wilderness camping permits are required and can be obtained at the Port Angeles Visitor's Center).

Following the main trail back towards the parking lot, a second cabin can be found in a smaller clearing.  Both cabins can be accessed and still retain a few relics from their occupancy over 65 years ago.  The path continues past the second cabin and along the hillside back to the parking lot.

I suggest reading Jonathan Evison's West of Here before undertaking this hike. Though it's historical fiction, the novel is written by a local and based off the journals from the original press expedition into the Olympic Peninsula in the late 1800s.  It will provide lots of context to your hike.

Pack List

* 10 Essentials
* Camera and Tripod
* Backpacking gear if spending the night
* Swimsuit

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RT Distance 5 Miles
Elevation Gain 500 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Running, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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