Humes Ranch Loop, Elwha Valley - Whiskey Bend Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Humes Ranch Loop - 5.65 miles
Elwha Valley - Whiskey Bend Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.65 miles (add .3 miles roundtrip to Goblin Gates)|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,273' - 1,273 (1,370' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+97' net elevation gain (+925' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Humes Ranch Loop - 5.65 Miles Round-Trip
The Elwha River Trail runs 28.4 miles south from Whiskey Bend Road to Low Divide (3,602'), and continues another 16.4 miles as the North Fork Quinault River Trail to form one of the longest contiguous hiking routes in Olympic National Park.
While the main trail artery is primarily used by backpackers, there are several short day hikes that branch off through the lower Elwha River Valley and historic Geyser Valley district.
The Elwha River Trail joins the Humes Ranch Trail and Rica Canyon Trail to form a varied loop through lowland forests, open meadows, river bottomlands, and historic cabin sites. The following description travels clockwise on the loop:
The trail rises steadily to the Rica Canyon Trail (1.2 miles : 1,247') and drops gently past the Krause Bottom Trail (1.6 miles : 1,127') to Michaels' Cabin at the Humes Meadow Trail split (1.9 miles : 1,118').
Michael's Cabin was occupied by 'Cougar Mike', a local sharpshooter who made a living hunting mountain lion and maintaining trails and phone lines for the Geyser Valley community.
The Humes Meadow Trail veers right at Michaels Cabin and drops sharply past the Dodger Point Trail split (2.15 miles : 1,195') to Humes Cabin (2.4 miles : 910').
Humes Cabin is located in a slender meadow from which a trail splits south to campsites in a much larger meadow (Humes Meadow). Elk and bear frequent this area. A narrow-cut trail bends north from Humes Cabin and drops to a trail split for Rica Canyon and Goblin Gates (3.05 miles : 902').
The Rica Canyon Trail leads down toward the river, but fades in heavy brush before reaching it. This is a fine excursion for those with time, but easier river access awaits. Keep straight and follow signs for Goblin Gates, which drops to a scenic opening right on the Elwha River (3.3 miles : 770'). This is a fine place to step off trail and explore the main river corridor.
The trail levels by the river and back into a pleasant bottomland just beside it. You'll pass one particularly nice campsite at 3.5 miles (772') en route to the RIca Canyon Trail - Goblin Gates split (4.05 miles : 790').
Goblin Gates is a rocky outcrop that stands over a tumultuous point where the river is forced through the high, narrow walls of Rica Canyon. This easy .3 mile roundtrip excursion is highly recommended.
The Rica Canyon Trail turns up from the Goblin Gates spur and climbs 473' in just .4 miles back to the Elwha Trail to complete the loop (4.45 miles : 1,263'). Retrace your steps back to the trailhead (5.65 miles).
- N47 58.068 W123 34.947 — 0.0 miles : Whiskey Bend Trailhead
- N47 57.395 W123 34.049 — 1.2 miles : Rica Canyon Trail split
- N47 57.273 W123 33.614 — 1.6 miles : Krause Bottom Trail split
- N47 57.206 W123 33.234 — 1.9 miles: Humes Ranch Trail split
- N47 57.109 W123 32.956 — 2.15 miles : Dodger Point Trail split
- N47 56.980 W123 32.843 — 2.45 miles : Humes Cabin - Campsite access
- N47 57.131 W123 33.457 — 3.05 miles : Elwha River Trail access split
- N47 57.193 W123 33.791 — 3.3 miles : Trail levels beside river
- N47 57.257 W123 34.241 — 3.8 miles : Level trail through Krause Bottom
- N47 57.347 W123 34.352 — 4.0 miles : Split to Goblin Gates
- N47 57.395 W123 34.051 — 4.35 miles : Steep climb back to Elwha Trail
- N47 58.069 W123 34.945 — 5.65 miles : Whiskey Bend Trailhead
- The trail segment that runs along the river between Humes Cabin and Goblin Gates is frequently referred to as the Geyser Valley Trail, however no signs make this distinction.
- Bears frequent Humes Meadow. Bear canisters are not required, but are recommended.
- Stock is permitted on the Elwha Valley Trail and the Humes Ranch Loop, but not recommended on the Rica Canyon Trail segment due to the steep pitch.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- There's an $8 per person, per night fee to backcountry camp in Olympic National Park (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time.
- You may self-register at the Elwha Ranger Station, located just before the turnoff to Whiskey Bend Road. Permits are not available at the trailhead. The station is staffed intermittently throughout the summer.
- There are no quotas or required reservations for Elwha Valley. Campsites are not individually assigned, but available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
- Humes Meadow is open to camping in established sites. There are also a few sites along the river - one very nice site in particular is located 3.5 miles from the trailhed when traveling clockwise at this point: N47 57.190 W123 33.988.
- Camp only in established sites, which are clearly marked along the trail and on most maps.
- Food Storage: Bear canisters are not required but are recommended. Established sites have bear wires.
- Fires: Campfires are permitted up to 3,500'.
- Fishing is not permitted on the Elwha River, or any of its tributaries.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $25 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($50 annual pass).
- Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
Whiskey Bend Trailhead is located within Elwha Valley, 8.4 miles from US 101 in Olympic National Park. From Port Angeles, drive 7.3 miles west on US 101 to Elwha Valley - Olympic Hot Springs Road (south side of highway). Turn left and drive 4 miles to Whiskey Bend Road.
Turn left and follow Whiskey Bend Road 4.4 miles to the trailhead.
Whiskey Bend Road is a graded gravel road suitable for all vehicles, however it's subject to washouts and closures. The road is narrow and winding. Call ahead for road conditions, and arrive early to avoid backups.
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
Forks Information Station
360.374.7566 or 360.374.5877
Quinault Wilderness Information Office