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Huffman Peak Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Calamity Peak from Huffman Ridge (bobcat)
Siouxon Falls (bobcat)
Swimming hole below Little Siouxon Falls, just east of Siouxon Falls (bobcat)
Iron stain at the Siouxon at Wildcat Creek crossing (bobcat)
Woolly chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus), Huffman Ridge (bobcat)
Wildcat Falls (bobcat)
The Huffman Peak Loop (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Siouxon TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Huffman Peak
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 13.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 4205 feet
  • High Point: 4,106 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest’s Siouxon Roadless Area is a very popular dayhiking/overnight camping area; this loop takes you first along the well-traveled stretch above Siouxon Creek, and then you need to ford the creek at the Siouxon at Wildcat Creek Crossing. From here, hike up a steep trail, passing Wildcat Falls, to a high ridge. There is a short cross-country scramble to the summit of Huffman Peak, from which you can view some of the Cascade volcanoes. Then make the long connector down the ridge to ford Siouxon Creek at the Lower Siouxon Crossing before returning to your vehicle. The Roadless Area is part of the 1902 Yacolt Burn and the lush growth here is really a 100-year forest although much of it is younger than that because fires continued to erupt in the area until 1930 or so, when the Civilian Conservation Corps came in and built trails and firebreaks.

The trail descends 50 yards from the alder-rimmed parking area to a junction with the Siouxon Trail #130, where you go right. These are lovely woods of western hemlock, Douglas-fir, sword fern, oxalis, devil’s club, wood fern and vine maple. Take the footbridge over West Creek and note the campsites below the trail in this area. Hike a level stretch of trail above lovely Siouxon Creek, pass another campsite, and then a false trail leading to the right. Keep to the main trail to reach the Siouxon-Horseshoe Ridge Trail West Junction. Keep straight and drop gently. A detour takes you away from the undercut creek bank. Undulate along, passing under a dripping mossy face and come to Horseshoe Creek. A short path down to the left gives you a good look at Horseshoe Creek Falls' upper tier. Cross Horseshoe Creek on a footbridge and come to the unsigned Siouxon-Horseshoe Creek Falls Trail Junction. This spur trail takes you down to an area of campsites on a bench and also a more complete view of triple-tiered 60-foot Horseshoe Creek Falls.

Back on the Siouxon Trail, cross a small creek and continue past more campsites. Reach the rotting bench at the viewpoint to Siouxon Falls. The creek here plunges noisily through a rocky cleft and forms a large pool which is great for a dip on a sultry summer day. Continuing on the trail drops. There is a spur to the top of a small waterfall on Siouxon Creek. Descend to a lush bottomland and rise again. Pass some campsites and reach the Siouxon-Siouxon Crossing Trail Junction, marked for the Wildcat Trail. Go left here past some campsites unless you want to extend the trip an extra 1.6 miles to cross the Siouxon on a footbridge and make the shallower ford below Chinook Falls (This option is detailed in the Siouxon Creek Hike).

Contemplate the Siouxon at Wildcat Creek Crossing. It may be possible, in late summer/early fall to keep your feet dry here, but most of the year you will be fording in fairly deep water - up to the waist sometimes for an average height adult female. The water is clear and does not run too swiftly, but you need poles to help with balance. Feel your way and, if you don’t want to get your boots wet, bring some other kind of thick-soled footwear that won’t float off your feet (i.e. no flip-flops). DO NOT do this crossing if the Siouxon is running angrily after a heavy rainstorm and you can’t see the bottom. Unbuckle your pack so you can slip it off in the event of a fall (Your pack can drag you under and drown you).

Once at the other side, reach the Wildcat-Siouxon Crossing Trail Junction. It's about a third of a mile up the Wildcat Trail to view Wildcat Falls, spectacular in the spring after heavy rains, a mere trickle in late summer. You will pass 40-foot Lower Wildcat Falls and a 25-foot slide falls, both only partially visible from the trail. At a sharp switchback below a rock face, there’s a view across to Wildcat Falls’ lovely amphitheater. This is just the lower 125 feet of the falls, with another two tiers totaling 100 feet not really visible above. A steep spur trail leads to the falls’ base. From here, it's just over two miles to the Huffman Peak Trail on the ridge crest. The trail switchbacks under a rock face and keeps switchbacking up the steep ridge. Switchback again at a manzanita-cloaked viewpoint looking down on the top of the falls. Keep plodding upwards under hemlocks and Douglas-firs with an understory of red huckleberry, wild rose, salal, and Oregon grape. The trail hits the cliff rim again and then reenters hemlock woods. The path winds up a steep slope under big snags from the old burn. The sparse understory is mainly Oregon grape and then some bear-grass. The gradient becomes easier. Pass through a bear-grass/huckleberry clearing with a view to Siouxon Peak and then head back into hemlock woods. Keep wending up. The trail levels on the crest of Wildcat Ridge in silver fir/Douglas-fir/noble fir/hemlock woods. Ascend the ridge again and then drop steeply to the Wildcat-Huffman Peak Trail Junction on the saddle between Siouxon Peak and Huffman Peak.

Go left on the Huffman Peak Trail #129, which traverses the north slope and then heads over the crest of Huffman Ridge, swishing through bear-grass. Drop back over the crest again and reach the north slope of Huffman Peak. From here, you can attempt the short bushwhack through ridge crest forest to the summit, an old lookout site, which affords views north to Mount Mitchell, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. You can also get a vista south to Mount Hood. Be warned that, although short, you will have to force the way through bushes to reach the top. Scout around from the Huffman Trail for the best route. Descend the way you came, go left on the trail, and make a traverse in silver fir woods. The trail passes across a scree slope with a great view across to Mount Saint Helens and intervening Marble Mountain with a comm tower on top (Ascending to the top of the peak from here is another possible option, but you may want to skip it altogether if you are running out of time). Vine maple and noble fir rim the scree. Head up past rocky outcrops to a saddle and the Huffman Peak-North Fork Siouxon Trail Junction. Be careful here, as the latter trail, #126, is more obvious but leads off along a ridge to the right and dead ends at the USFS/Washington DNR border. Go left at the junction to the south side of the ridge, passing through small huckleberry clearings, with bushes overhanging the trail. Keep descending in silver fir woods, with some fairly large trees. There’s an opening in the trees with a view of Calamity Peak. Pass into forest that was logged many decades ago judging by the large stumps with springboard notches in them. The trail drops rapidly for a while and then goes up and down in hemlock, Douglas-fir, Oregon grape and vine maple woods along a ridge crest. Drop again, but not as steeply, to a flat area. Then undulate in woods of secondary-growth Douglas-fir and hemlock.

The trail descends to the Lower Siouxon Crossing. There’s no chance of a dry crossing here, so wade across. The water may be up to your knees in late summer and could be waist-deep (for an average height male) in spring. The trail picks up on the other side at a campsite and makes a sharp left and then heads up a sword fern-cloaked slope. Continuing up, reach the Siouxon-Huffman Peak Trail Junction and go left.

The Siouxon Trail here in early fall is the land of lobster mushrooms and these provide bright orange flashes all along the path. Traverse in shady, lovely green Douglas-fir and hemlock woods with vine maple, sword fern, and oxalis. The trail rises into the woods above a creek and wends in and out of gullies just below the access road (FR 5701). There are many large snags from the Yacolt Burn, which destroyed the magnificent old growth in this place. Come to a junction with a spur that leads up to the road and keep left on the Siouxon Trail. About 100 yards later, come to another junction and go right up to parking.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Pass not required
  • There are two deep fords of Siouxon Creek; bring poles to support yourself! (See Tips for Crossing Streams).

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Lookout Mtn, WA #396
  • Siouxon Roadless Area (USFS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Skamania 231: A Scrambler's Guide by Kelly Wagner
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Day Hiking: Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano & Aaron Theisen
  • Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Hiking the Gifford Pinchot Backcountry by the Columbia Group Sierra Club

More Links

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Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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