This Northern Route trail segment is the second stage of a longer route that combines with the “Pope Ridge to Saddle Mountain” track to form a longer trek from Vinemaple to Saddle Mountain and thence from the shoulder of Saddle Mountain to Humbug Mountain.
Walk duration: 4 hours
Travel time to trail head: 1 hour 17 minutes (64 miles) from the Sylvan interchange on Highway 26 to the shoulder of Humbug Mountain – at the base of the track leading upwards through the trees towards the NW shoulder of Humbug Mountain. The pull off is located on the right side of the road exactly one tenth of a mile past the end of a double horseshoe bend – think “figure eight”). This trail is accessed from this western end, because the eastern terminus of the trail (where it connects with the trail leading west from Pope Ridge) is inaccessible by car.
Elevation change: 711 ft.
Trail Log: This trail segment begins at the end of the previous route that traces a 7.6 mile walking route from Vinemaple, located on Highway 103 alongside the Nehalem River to the paved Lewis and Clark Road that provides access to the popular peak.
In principle, the routes described on this blog have been chosen to eschew all heavily traveled roads, especially those that are paved for high volume vehicular traffic. But this short reliance on Lewis and Clark Road is an exception, since there are not real alternatives, and the portions of this route that rely on this paved route are as short as possible.
From this intersection of the Lewis and Clark Road and the logging road that approaches up the ridge from the east, the next portion of this route leads in a southwesterly direction down the paved Lewis and Clark Road. Follow the Lewis and Clark Road for .67 miles. At that point a logging road leads off to the right, climbing steeply up the southern flank of Saddle Mountain. The elevation at the base of this road (where it connects with the Lewis and Clark Road) is 1520 ft. Over the next mile this road climbs 220 ft in elevation. As the road levels off, a spur road is evident on the right, and later also to the right: a small quarry site.
This ascent finally ends in a T intersection with a road running along the flank of the mountain. At the T intersection (1.47 miles from the start of this hike), turn right and follow this road as it heads west along the flank of Saddle Mountain. It skirts the top of a clear cut and then turns south and descends to intersect with another logging road 2.4 miles into the hike. The last portion of this road is lightly used and accessible only on foot, but it does come out on to a road that cuts straight through the forest and descends steeply from where our route abuts it at the upper end (1525 ft. in elevation) to its lower end at an elevation of 1260 ft. There the road turns abruptly to the left and the route becomes somewhat confused as it approaches a creek. There are several elk and footpaths that traverse this creek crossing, but suffice to say that the route continues on the far side of the creek –even though the route is not easily visible from the end of the road (2.9 miles from the start of this hike) you’ve just descended. Proceed towards the creek (1220 in elevation) and (3.25 miles into the hike) ascend the far side where the resumption of the route becomes visible again.
Follow this track down the slope, passing a spur on the right at 3.4 miles into the hike. A quarter mile onwards (3.68 miles) this track rejoins the Lewis and Clark Road. Turn right and follow this road down the Lewis and Clark River valley, crossing the Lewis and Clark River at 4.53 miles into this hike (elevation 1000 ft.) and later to where it joins with the Saddle Mountain Road. That junction is 5.75 miles into the hike (elevation 895 ft.); follow the Saddle Mountain Road to the left (southwards) and follow it for 1 ¾ miles to the shoulder of Humbug Mountain. At a distance of 7.5 miles (elevation 1300 ft.) look for a pull-out area on the right side of the road. In the woods behind it you should see a small footpath entering into the forest and (if you look through the stand of trees) emerging into a clear cut area beyond. This marks the beginning of the next installment of trail routes, known as the Ridge Runner’s Delight Trail – that ends the “northern route” in Seaside, Oregon.