Go on a summer ATV adventure in Thurston County on the North Rim of Capitol Forest
OWith its huge expanse of forest land, towering peaks and miles of multi-use trails, the Capitol Forest is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with something for everyone. Mountain bikers find epic rides here, and the region’s northern slope offers dedicated trails. There are options for all types of riding, including downhill thrills, crushing gravel, slick trails, stumps and rocks for epic jumps. Although open year-round, the dry summer season is the perfect time for an ATV adventure on Northern slope of the Capitole forest.
The varied landscapes of North Slope provide ever-changing views as you descend. Find sweeping straight planes and winding curves under the tree canopy, as well as views from open areas. The Capitol Forest is beautiful, so be sure to stop and enjoy the views when you take a break from cycling.
The North Slope parking area is just outside the Grays Harbor VHR park. Be sure to check the information board at the trailhead for any alerts or notices regarding the site. It’s a good idea to download a map before you go, as cell service can be spotty in the hills. The trails reserved for mountain bikes are indicated on the map in blue. Access many of these exciting trails by commuting with the A line.
Down ‘N Rowdy
As the longest mountain bike-only trail on the North Rim, Down ‘N Rowdy lives up to its name. Rated very difficult, DNR (not to be confused with Ministry of Natural Resources) is a tight, technical freeride with a fun flow. A challenge for even the bravest cyclists, finding steep spots, rocky pits and lots of heckling along the way on this 2.1 mile route.
Able to be completed in just under three hours, Stormy Trail is rated difficult and is a favorite among Capitol Forest runners. Mostly downhill, descend and gain speed as you bombard this 2,863 foot black diamond single track trail. Hit the descents, have fun on the technical terrain and spend time in the air on this super fun mountain bike trail.
This one-way trail offers a bit of everything from tabletops, berms, steep areas to crunchy rocks, roots and trees to navigate. Rated very difficult, Scoby is the newest mountain bike trail and dubbed the crown jewel of the North Slope Trail system. Complete this 1.3 mile route in just over an hour, but it will be an hour you will remember forever.
The area’s multi-use trails, including the Green Line, Wedekind, Crestline, Porter, and Little Larch Mountain, are also popular with mountain bikers using the Capitol Forest. The Fall Creek Trailhead offers access to many other mountain biking areas in the area, and there’s even camping if you want to extend your time on the trails for several days. Or just add some of these routes to your route and have a full day of mountain biking adventure.
Tips for riding on the North Face
- Don’t forget to buy your Discovery pass Parking is required in all areas of the Capitol Forest and costs only $35 for an annual pass or $11.50 for the day.
- According to MNR, e-bikes can be used on any trail in the Capitol Forest that allows motorized vehicles as well as the mountain bike trails on the North Rim of Grays Harbor ORV Park. All non-motorized – shared-use – trails in Capitol Forest cannot be used by e-bikes.
- Follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace to keep the area clean and enjoyable for everyone, including local wildlife.
- Do not ride in streams or on road berms.
- Be sure to check the Department of Natural Resources website for any leisure alert.
Parking and directions for the North Slope
Access the northern slope of the Capitoline Forest in just under half an hour from Olympia. Take I-5 to Hwy 101 and head west. Exit at Highway 8 and proceed west a little over ten miles. Turn left onto Cooper Road SW and continue left to stay on Cooper Road SW after 0.2 mile.
With a thrilling system of gnarly jumps that will make even the most daring riders sweat, coupled with easier cross-country trails, Capitol Forest’s North Rim is a premier mountain biking destination in the Pacific Northwest. . With dry trail conditions and summer sunshine, now is the time to load up the bikes and set off for some incredible two-wheeled adventures in the Capitol Forest.
Get more information on outdoor activities by visiting: Outdoor Activities in Olympia and the Pacific Northwest | Discover Olympia.