With its massive expanse of forest lands, towering peaks and miles of multi-use trails, the Capitol Forest is an outdoor lover’s paradise with something for everyone. Mountain bikers here find epic rides, and the area’s North Slope offers trails devoted just to them. There are options for all types of riding, including downhill thrills, gravel grinding, smooth trails, stumps, and rock gardens for epic jumps. Although open year-round, the dry summer season is the perfect time for a mountain biking adventure on Capitol Forest’s North Slope.
North Slope Mountain Biking Trails
The varying landscapes at North Slope offer ever-changing sights as you descend. Find speedy straight shots and twisty curves under the canopy of the trees, along with views from the open areas. The Capitol Forest is stunning, so be sure to stop and enjoy the vistas when taking a break from the bike.
The North Slope parking area is just outside of the Grays Harbor ORV Park. Be sure to look at the information board at the trailhead for any alerts or notices for the site. It is a good idea to download a map before heading out, as cell service can be spotty in the hills. Mountain bike-only trails are denoted on the map in blue. Access many of these exciting trails by shuttling the A-Line.
Down ‘N Rowdy
As the longest mountain bike-only trail in the North Slope, Down ‘N Rowdy is just as it’s named. Rated very difficult, DNR (not to be confused with the Department of Natural Resources) is a narrow and technical freeride with a fun flow. A challenge for even the heartiest of riders, find steep spots, rock pits, and plenty of rowdiness on the way down this 2.1-mile route.
Able to be completed in just under three hours, Stormy Trail is rated difficult and is a favorite among riders in the Capitol Forest. Primarily downhill, drop in and gain some speed while you bomb down this 2,863-foot black diamond singletrack trail. Fly down the descents, have a blast on the technical terrain, and get some air time on this super fun mountain bike trail.
This one-way trail offers a little bit of everything from tabletops, berms, steep areas to crunchy rock, roots and trees to navigate around. 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 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 is even camping if you’d like to extend your time on the trails for multiple days. Or simply add some of these routes to your ride and make a whole day of mountain biking adventure.
Tips for Riding the North Slope
- Don’t forget to buy your Discover Pass beforehand. It’s needed to park in all areas of the Capitol Forest and is just $35 for an annual pass or $11.50 for the day.
- According to DNR, e-bikes may be ridden on any Capitol Forest trail that allows motorized vehicles as well as the North Slope mountain biking trails by Grays Harbor ORV Park. Any 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 the local wildlife.
- Do not ride in streams or on road berms.
- Be sure to check the Department of Natural Resources website for any recreation alerts.
Parking and Directions for North Slope
Get to the North Slope of Capitol Forest in just under a half an hour from Tacoma. Take I-5 to Highway 101 and head west. Exit at Highway 8 and continue west for just over ten miles. Turn left to Cooper Road SW and continue left to stay on Cooper Road SW after 0.2 miles.
With a heart-pounding system of gnarly jumps sure to make the boldest riders perspire, coupled with easier cross-country trails, Capitol Forest’s North Slope is a premier mountain biking destination in the Pacific Northwest. With dry trail conditions and summer sun, now is the time to load the bikes and head out on amazing adventures on two wheels in the Capitol Forest.
Get more information about outdoor activities by visiting: Outdoor Activities in Olympia & the Pacific Northwest | Experience Olympia.