Here’s a true woodland wanderer’s dream. Start with a couple miles of gentle up-and-down, through forest coated with thick mosses, with glimpses of a crashing river that’s an ethereal shade of blue-green. Then begin steadily climbing up switchbacks, the beginning of your journey through an aging forest fire, and on to views of a verdant river valley rolling out at your feet. An added bonus – this is one of WTA’s most frequently-visited trails. Trees in the burn area fall routinely, so the access you enjoy to these surroundings is thanks to volunteer crews who visit this trail year after year to remove them.
Begin from the trailhead parking area and immediately head gently uphill along a wide, rocky tread through thick forest. A creek runs along the inside of this former roadbed, so WTA crews have installed drainage structures along this first mile of trail, to keep the small stream from eroding the trail away. As the trail curves around to the left, take in the enormous bigleaf maples that line the way, and listen to the wind sighing through the trees.
After a mile, pass a sign indicating The Brothers Wilderness. Descend a short hill, then follow the trail as it flattens out through some stunning fir and pines. WTA wields their tools here as well, evening tread and providing sturdier footing for hikers.
Two miles from the trailhead you have your first glimpse of the Duckabush River. Hike alongside this mighty river, which may be silty from spring runoff, or crystal clear in winter. Head upstream about half a mile before an enchanting glen opens up before you. Hikers are dwarfed by enormous cedars, and pillowy moss spreads out in all directions from your boots.
Soon you’ll begin climbing Big Hump. The first assault is a series of tight switchbacks on black rock dotted with colorful lichen to an overlook. This is informally known as 'Snack Rock'. Have a bite, then continue here through a large section of the 2011 Duckabush Fire.
This is where WTA work crews have made their mark. Each year, at least three backcountry response teams make the trek back here to log out hundreds of trees that fall to winter storms. In 2015, a crew even headed up for a soggy weekend in November and removed 80 trees over the course of four days!
The trail meanders through this area, then continues switchbacking uphill to the crest of Big Hump. Enjoy views from the top, and look down, on the north side of the hill. There’s a camp down there, 650 feet down and about 5 miles from the trailhead (hence its apt name, Fivemile Camp).
If you’re looking for a good picnic spot, head down there. Otherwise, take in the views and head back the way you came.
- 10.6 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 2300 feet
- Highest Point
- 1750 feet
Hiking Duckabush River
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.6852, -123.0397 Open in Google Maps