backpack: Duckabush River Trail
The Duckabush River Trail is located on the Hood Canal side of the Olympic Peninsula and makes for a great early season backpacking trip with multiple camp areas in low elevation forest next to the scenic river.
- day 1 – Duckabush trailhead to campsite: 2.1 miles, 450 ft. gain, 250 ft. loss
- day 2 – day hike to Big Hump & Five Mile Camp: 6.5 miles roundtrip, 1,758 ft. gain/loss
- day 3 – hike out to Duckabush trailhead: 2.1 miles, 250 ft. gain, 450 ft. loss
- best months: May – June
- location: Olympic Peninsula; nearest towns: Hoodsport, WA
- land management: Olympic National Forest: Hood Canal Ranger District
- trail conditions: Duckabush Trail #803
- hike description: Washington Trails Association
- permits: self-issued at the trailhead
- trailhead pass: NW Forest Pass required
I had been trying for several years to do this backpacking trip, but each time the trips were cancelled due to rainy weather or late season snow. The forecast for this weekend called for higher than normal temps and no rain, and with the lower elevations snow-free, I could finally make the trip happen. : )
The drive to trailhead from Portland takes about 3-1/2 hours so when we arrived on the first warm and sunny day of spring, I wasn’t too surprised to see a full parking lot. We were hoping to get a campsite near Two Mile Camp so we didn’t waste any time on trail in order to find a good spot.
After the first mile, the trail enters the Brothers Wilderness, near the top of Little Hump. I didn’t notice that I was on Little Hump until the trail started descending.
Along the way, the trail crosses several small streams that were easy to rock hop across.
Near Two Mile Camp, we found a private campsite next to the river. I setup my tent in a small spot above the river away from the main campsite. It really helps to have a tent with a smaller footprint for fitting into tight spaces like this. The hillside sloped downward from the door of my tent so I had to be mindful each time I got out of my tent, but I loved this spot. A bonus was that I could see the river while laying inside my tent.
On this trip, I tested four freeze-dried meals from Peak Refuel. The first night’s dinner was Beef Stroganoff. Yum!
After breakfast at camp, we day hiked to Five Mile Camp.
On the way, we checked out the campsites at Two Mile Camp. We saw four campsites in this area, including this large site next to the trail.
Just after Two Mile Camp, the trails heads up Big Hump (which we renamed Giant Effing Hump due to 1,000 ft. gain in a mile). The trail is well graded so the elevation gain is gradual for the most part. This was the first hot day of the season and that ended up being the hardest thing about the hike.
Views of peaks that surrounded us came into view as we headed uphill. Below is St. Peters Dome.
View to the west of the Duckabush River valley
At a scenic viewpoint, there were about ten day hikers enjoying the sunny weather. We decided to stop here on our way back, so we continued on.
After the viewpoint, the trail heads through a former burn area from a 2011 wildfire. Downed trees are next to the trail everywhere… and keep volunteers busy keeping this trail clear for hikers.
Descending from Big Hump, we passed by massive rocky formations and crossed several small creeks. The river comes into view again just before Five Mile Camp.
Just before reaching Five Mile Camp, the trail is rerouted to go around a large downed tree that volunteers have been working to clear.
We took a side trail down to the camp and took a long lunch break. Based on the full parking lot the day before, we were surprised to see Five Mile Camp empty, but on our hike back to our camp, we passed several groups headed here.
Large rocks and boulders covered in moss add to the scenic beauty of the river at Five Mile Camp.
We spent about an hour here, then headed back up and over Big Hump to get back to our campsite.
A lot of the area around Five Mile Camp and Big Hump looks like this…
Back at the viewpoint, we were the only ones here so we stopped for a short break.
For our last night, we had a campfire before heading to bed early. There was rain in the forecast the next day and we hoped to pack up before it started.
The rain held out and the overcast skies made for better forest photos. : )
I loved this area and would definitely return here to backpack again. : )