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Humbug Mountain Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Tanoak woods, Humbug Mountain (bobcat)
Creek and myrtles, Humbug Mountain (bobcat)
View to Port Orford and Cape Blanco from the West Trail (bobcat)
Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), Humbug Mountain ( (bobcat)
Descending the East Trail, Humbug Mountain (bobcat)
The Humbug Mountain loop (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Humbug Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Humbug Mountain
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1740 feet
  • High Point: 1,756 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak

Contents

Hike Description

Forested Humbug Mountain, the result of tectonic collisions, rears up from the rocky shoreline north of Gold Beach. It is the highest prominence that rises directly from the ocean shore in Oregon. The entire mountain is within Humbug Mountain State Park. Two trails are combined here to provide a loop up through old-growth mixed forest. The original trail, the West Trail, was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, but was destroyed in the 1962 Columbus Day storm. The East Trail replaced it for 30 years, but in 1993 the West Trail was reconstructed to provide a loop. There are no longer many views from the trail or the top of Humbug Mountain, but the splendid groves of myrtle and tanoak along with some impressive Douglas-firs offer an unusual coastal experience.

The peak was originally known to settlers as Sugarloaf Mountain but gained the nickname “Tichenor’s Humbug” in the early 1850s. Captain William Tichenor of the steamship Sea Gull was the founder of Port Orford, the first Euro-American trading post on the southern Oregon coast, and he sent out exploratory parties from that settlement into Rogue River country in search of gold. One of these parties was instructed to climb the brushy slopes of the mountain to gain views of the gold producing area, but there were no views inland from the summit.

Begin the hike in a lovely Oregon myrtle grove, and keep left at the junction with the trail coming from the campground. Cross a tributary of Brush Creek, and traverse up a slope of sword fern, salal, and rhododendron shaded by large Douglas-firs. Poison oak is prevalent at this lower elevation and climbs high up some of the conifers. Switchback twice, and pass through a salmonberry thicket. Switchback again, and traverse up in a mixed forest of tanoak, western hemlock, big-leaf maple, evergreen huckleberry, and some massive Douglas-firs. Hike up along a creek lushly overhung with salmonberry and wood fern. Soon, cross the creek, and make a traverse on a deer fern-lined trail. Reach the Humbug East-Humbug West Trail North Junction, and go right on the West Trail.

Hike under hemlocks, Douglas-firs, and big-leaf maples, getting glimpses of the ocean through the trees. A long traverse leads to a viewpoint north to Port Orford and Cape Blanco. After a couple of switchbacks, make another traverse. Here, Indian pipe, a circumpolar fungus parasite, erupts from the earth in summer. Switchback in leafy mixed woods and reach a ridge crest. Plunge up through a thicket of tanoak and salmonberry, and then pass a 2.0 mile marker. Make three switchbacks, hike up a ridge crest again, and then make a traverse to the right. Round another switchback to the ridge, and head up the crest getting views north along the coastline. Come to the Humbug East-Humbug West Trail South Junction, and go right.

Make two short switchbacks to arrive at the summit of Humbug Mountain. You can pass the actual summit to rest on a bench that faces south. There are no unobstructed views, however, but you can make out the curve of the coastline through the trees that have grown up. A user trail that leads off the summit simply turns to connect with the main trail and offers no views.

Return to the Humbug East-Humbug West Trail South Junction, and go right to complete the loop on the East Trail. Traverse down under tanoaks and Douglas-firs, and make three switchbacks to leave the ridge crest. Hike through an oxalis carpet shaded by old-growth Douglas-firs. Pass a 2 ½ mile marker (as measured from the trailhead) and, on a long traverse, get a view north to Port Orford. Switchback and walk under a rustling tanoak canopy before transitioning to a Douglas-fir/hemlock slope. Past one eight-foot diameter Douglas-fir, you’ll get a glimpse of Redfish Rocks, now part of a marine reserve. Note that the oldest trees on this slope exhibit the scorching of a long-ago fire. Cross a trickling creek, and hike through deer and maidenhair ferns at the beginning of another lengthy traverse. Myrtle trees enter the forest mix, and you’ll get another view north along the coast to Cape Blanco. When you reach the Humbug East-Humbug West Trail North Junction, go right to return to the trailhead.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Picnic area with restrooms 1.1 miles east on Highway 101
  • State parks campground across the highway from trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein & Zach Urness
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Out Our Back Door: Driving Tours and Day-Hikes in Oregon’s Coos Region by Tom Baake
  • From Sea to Summit: The R.A.D. Guide to Hiking in Curry County, Oregon by the R.A.D. Outdoor Club
  • 76 Day-Hikes Within 100 Miles of the Rogue Valley by Art Bernstein
  • Hiking Oregon’s Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links


Contributors

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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.