There’s Nothing Humbug About Humbug Mountain

Port Orford 2018

Today we revisit Humbug Mountain and embark on a 5-mile out and back journey through what looks like Jurassic Park.

The climb takes us over 1700 feet to the summit… an open area and a bench overlooking trees and brush obscuring the ocean view. But we already know this (been here, done it once we arrogantly remember.)

The first mile is a doozy of an uphill. Fortunately photo-ops allow us to catch our breath with artistic dignity…

The sorrels beneath the Douglas Firs are blooming.

We encounter a Snail Crossing.

The pale green moss hanging off the tree limbs reminds us of Halloween ghosts.

Yet another uphill switchback gifts us with a  trickling stream that delights and calms us as we cross.

But a few minutes later a fallen tree narrows the path.

We cross cautiously and 10 minutes later arrive at the loop trail to the summit. Last year we took the West Trail, remembering how steep and taxing it was stepping over fallen logs. So today we opt for the East Trail.

Fifteen minutes later we encounter the first of our uphill obstacle courses.

Finally, we maneuver this tangled mess and I take a pic from the other side. Can you find the trail path?

Safely across, a break in the trees provides a view of US-101 below and the ocean covered with the misty marine layer.

Hugging the side of the trail, Trilliums are in full bloom.

But it’s not long before the trail is blocked again.

And again… not even 10 minutes later we see trouble ahead.

Up close we can see where lightning struck the tree. The arrow shows the trail as we approach and how much was ripped away by the uprooted tree.

After passing through, I look back to take a picture.

Oops… too soon… We pass another uprooted tree.

Then just around this bend…

These black caterpillar-like centipedes are plentiful under the soil of the uprooted trees. They start to creep us out.

Next we encounter 2 fallen tree trunks. We can’t climb over them so we have to crawl under them. Jasley, our limbo princess, we need you now!

And then…

Finally, things are looking up…

But not for long…

With a little more than 30 minutes away from the summit, we enjoy our hike.

Then another uprooted tree reminds us not to get too comfortable.

I spy a cool growth on a dead tree trunk and I just have to have a picture.

Three pictures later we reach the summit trail.

Another uphill? But just a short one…

Then a switchback and ta-da!

The geological marker makes it official.

But just in case one has any doubts, someone has carved peak into the mile post.

But the 3 mile sign is missing.

Exhausted, I make my way to the bench that used to overlook the ocean. The mile marker is lying on the ground beside it, depicting exactly how I feel at the moment… thirsty, hungry, and tired.

I hydrate and rest and eat my yogurt, banana, peanut butter, raisin and date concoction. I do my best to capture a glimpse or two of the ocean through the trees, even if I capture more clouds than ocean.

I remember from last year that Myrtle trees live here too and I take some pictures.

A half hour later we head down the mountain on the west trail. Down, what an encouraging word!

An ocean view greets us.

And we trot down through the Oregon Coast rain forest…

I take pictures of more Trilliums…

…blackberry flowers…

…broken trees…

…blooming hostas…

…another peek at the ocean…

So far so good! No obstacle courses on this side of the loop trail.

Just a few tree trunks to duck under…

Uh-oh… I spoke too soon.

That was fun… Our spirits lighten again as ocean views poke through the forest windows.

Then we slide our way to the end of the loop trail.

At last, the loop and all its challenges are behind us. All we have to do is continue downhill, retracing the first mile up, and arrive to the safety of our car. What a doozy of an afternoon!

Humbug Mountain is usually not a particularly difficult trail to hike. It’s a great workout offering a continuous heart-pounding climb one way and an exhilarating descent all the way down. Your leg muscles will yell at you, but your heart will thank you. And the next time you hike here you will have forgotten all about the pain in the gain… until you reach the first switchback.


Oh, just an FYI… My reliable sources in town tell me that plans are underway to trim back all the trees and bushes at the summit so that hikers can arrive to an ocean view again.

Humbug Mountain Trail

 Rising Directly from the Ocean

Humbug rises directly from the Pacific Ocean and stands 1,756 feet above sea level, making it one of the tallest headlands in Oregon.

 en.m.wikipedia.org

Originally known to Native Americans as Me-tus, Humbug was later named Sugarloaf Mountain. In 1851 it became known as Tichenor’s Humbug when an exploring party sent by Captain William Tichenor, the founder of Port Orford, got lost and headed north of the port instead of south. Tichenor said the name was chosen “to palliate their gross failure.” (enjoyportorford.com)

…from palliate to humbug…  Okay, then, the misdirection was glossed over, covered up, condoned and their misled behavior became humbug… That’s the best I can do to make sense of the name!

So, are you ready for a 5.5 mile hike up Humbug Mountain? Let’s go!

First, we have to cross a muddy creek at the beginning of the trailhead.

Then we hike steadily up for the next mile on a narrow path. With each switchback the steep edge alternates from right to left.

The ocean peeks through the trees.

Obstacles on the trail challenge us:

Moss on trees cast an eerie silhouette:

Then we cross a Zen-like stream.

And finally we meet the junction.

We take the West Trail and catch glimpses of the Pacific Ocean:

And the old-growth temperate rainforest:

We arrive at the summit.

We are greeted by a bench and a grove of Myrtlewood Trees, but no ocean view.

But we knew this before we started. We’re just happy to hike to the summit.

And now, what goes up, must come down. In our case, what goes west, must go east.

So, we head down…

And for the next 4 days our calves talk back to us!