Capitol Forest is a really great place to ride. The forest is managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. It is a “working forest” in that timber sales may affect trail use. Make sure you know where any trail closures are before you ride and do not ride on closed trails as the surface can suddenly and unexpectedly be impacted (i.e. missing entirely) by logging operations. DNR makes a good effort to communicate such closures and to ensure trails are restored after logging has ended. Join our mailing list for updated info on trail closures/reopenings.
As of July 1st 2011, a Discover Pass is required on all state recreation lands, including Capitol Forest. Costs are $10 per vehicle for a day-use pass, or $30 per vehicle per year. In addition, DNR is will be awarding passes to volunteers who participate in trail work parties. For more information, or to purchase the pass, call 1-866-320-9933, or visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov, or inquire at your local outdoors store. The penalty for not displaying a Discover Pass is $99, so be sure to get one and put it on your dash board!
Please note, there are many types of recreational users in the forest, from hikers, runners, bikers, equestrians, motorized/ATV users. Motorized users are restricted to “orange trails” in the northern part of the forest, and equestrians are restricted to “green trails” in the southern part of the forest — see map. Cyclists, hikers and runners may use any trail, as long as it is not closed due to logging or a hazardous condition, such as a washout, landslide or (re)construction.
The potential for conflict exists among Capitol Forest trail users because of:
- Travel direction (trails are fairly narrow, and travel is allowed in both directions)
- Closing speeds in a head-on situation or even potential differences in speed in a same-direction travel
- Noise (hikers/runners can be hard to hear, and motorized users might not hear others)
- Equestrians’ mounts are large, powerful, and often wary of “perceived predators”
By understanding a few simple rules, all users can enjoy the trails safely:
- Be in control of your bike and aware of your surroundings at all times
- Expect other trail users and know they have a right to be there too
- Communication is key: let others know you see them, and how many people are behind you in your riding group
- Stop and ask equestrians how you should proceed — some will ask you to dismount and walk past them, others will ask you to dismount and wait till they pass you. Horses are wary of potential predators, and can be especially skittish if you are overtaking them from behind or if you are approaching them from above. It can be helpful to keep talking as you pass them or they pass you since horses are used to human voices (and predators don’t talk)
FOCF helped to create a video on sharing the trail with other users.
Be sure to check out riding & socializing, activities we are famous for.
CaptiolForest.com maintains a website with lots of recreational information for users of the forest. Check out their site too.