Capitol Forest has lots of great riding. For cross county riding, it arguably does not get any better than the loop of 8-50-6 out of Fall Creek Trailhead (aka “The Poker Run” because this is the route of the recreational ride & beginner race in our Capitol Forest Classic). This route a smile-maker for sure, especially the descent at the end. Total ride length is about 10 miles, great for a beginner or a quick spin for more experienced riders. Plus there are options to extend it (see below).
This ride starts and ends at the Fall Creek Trailhead, accessible from Delphi Road on the Westside of Olympia. Note on C-6000, that you’ll pass the Fall Creek Campground first and then reach the Fall Creek Trailhead.
Note that heading out of the trailhead, you’re actually on Trail 6, so don’t forget to turn left onto Trail 8 at the 4-way intersection. Otherwise you’ll climb up 6, which is decidedly less fun and way more challenging — “Feel lucky, punk? Do ya?”.
Trail 8 offers a pretty consistent climb that is not very technically challenging — very doable on a rigid bike as an out-and-back to Trail 50, BTW. You’ll enjoy various sections, some with tree cover, some not, some twisty hairpins, some flowy, loamy stuff near creeks. It’s pretty varied, but generally very doable even for first-timers with breaks to catch one’s breath.
The junction of 8 and 50 is odd in that you “go straight” to get on Trail 50, whereas 8 continues with a sharp left towards Wedekind (see “Wedekind Options” below). This bears mentioning since the map doesn’t provide such great visual cues. Trail 50 itself is a welcome change with a much easier grade and faster speeds. Check out the hill for a short hard climb with tech challenge atop it, as well as a fun zooming downhill (to some sweet, easy air). Alternately you can ride to the right of the hill for an easier time.
Turning right/downhill at the intersection of Trail 6, you start to head back to Fall Creek. Trail 6 is almost all descending (except for right after the bridge over the West fork of Fall Creek — pour on the speed to clear that short-but-steep hill). Trail 6 has some technical sections, root drops, reasonable jumps for the vertically challenged and berms aplenty. Much of that fun stuff is due to the very fine work of FOCF, so consider volunteering at their work parties or making a donation to them. There are a couple T-intersections on Trail 6 as you approach Fall Creek. Just go straight at each to get back to the trailhead. Otherwise you’ll wind up in the Fall Creek Campground, which you passed when driving to the trailhead.
Put Another Quarter in That!
For a longer ride, at the junction of 8 and 50, instead of taking 50 right away, you can take Trail 8 to Wedekind (the sharp left mentioned above) as an out-and-back leg and then continue onto 50 and 6. Alternately, for an even longer ride, you can pick up Trail 30 and then Trail 6 at Wedekind, and bike up to Capitol Peak (blowing off Trail 50 altogether), but be aware that it will double the length of the ride and involve a lot more climbing (but more descending too). Either way, you’ll ride across a modular fiberglass bridge that FOCF volunteers built in 2010.
Have fun and ride safely!