Humptulips, E. Fork, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||24 fpm|
|HUMPTULIPS RIVER BELOW HWY 101 NR HUMPTULIPS, WA|
|usgs-12039005||800 - 15000 cfs||III||00h39m||1050 cfs (running)|
|Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.|
FUN FACT: A beautiful gorge run suitable for intermediates.
SEASON: During the rainy periods from November to May. Snow often makes the run inaccessible in winter although sufficient flows often do exist.
LOGISTICS: At Hwy 101 mile 112.6 (approximately 4 miles north of the bridge across the Humptulips) look for the sign to Wynoochee Lake Recreation Area, and take Donkey Creek Road (FR 22) east off Highway 101 for 12.2 miles to a spur road that leads down to the river. The road ends in 0.4 miles at a nice campsite and river access at a fun rapid. If you want to shorten the run a bit or don't want to take your car down this spur, there is a good pull-out at FR 22 mile 12.6 where the river comes up near the road. Before setting shuttle, most continue on to mile 13.0 where FR 22 crosses the river. This gives you a decent visual check on flows and you can take out on the upstream river left side of the bridge if you're hiking your shuttle. The road to the put-in is at mile 12.9 (just west of the bridge). This is FR 2206 and it heads north along the west side of the river. Follow it up to mile 3.2 where a faint trail (an old logging spur now blocked by a berm) heads down into the forest. After about a hundred yards the trail becomes less distinct but if you keep toward the right and follow the elk trails down the hill it should only take about 5 minutes to reach the river.
SHUTTLE: Run, walk, bike, or drive to the put-in. It's not uncommon for the road (FR 2206) to be snowed in during the winter. Check with Olympic National Forest for the latest road conditions.
The Narrows section of the Humptulips is one of the true gems of the Olympic Peninsula. Flowing through a narrow gorge tucked within a narrow strip of old growth forest gives one a sense of the true beauty of the Pacific coastal rainforest (you almost forget the clearcuts when you're down in the gorge). The run nearly always has dependable flows through the winter rainy season and is a good bet when you find other nearby runs to be a little lower than expected.
Once you find the river the first section is characterized by a meandering channel with some impressive log jams. After the first mile or so the river squeezes over a boulder-choked ledge and into a canyon at the mouth of Flatbottom Creek. The only possible run through this drop is the fish ladder on river left. It's not the most elegant drop, but you can get down it. Alternatively you should be able find a spot to seal launch into the pool at the base of the fish ladder. From this point down to the bridge, the river is constrained between tight bedrock walls of polished basalt.
The gorge is characterized by class III rapids around boulders and through little chutes. The primary routes are a bit technical, but not terribly demanding and there are good recovery stretches between drops. Although the rapids are straight forward, there are occasional logs so don't commit to anything you can't comfortably boat scout. Some sections of the gorge are really narrow.
You'll pass by a couple of impressive waterfalls. One of the best rapids comes just upstream of Goforth Creek which enters as a waterfall on river right.
The river opens up a bit after it passes under the bridge and there are a couple more fun rapids before the takeout. If you run this river in late fall the clear water makes for some great salmon viewing.
for additional information see:
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.