The Capitol State Forest, only a few miles west of Olympia, is a 100,000-acre playground for outdoors lovers. The area is home to some of the best mountain biking in western Washington, as well as areas for camping, off-roading, hiking, and shooting.
The Mima Falls Trail
The Mima Falls trailhead is located off of Marksman Road SW at the southeast corner of the forest, and is only four miles west of the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. The trailhead has a large area for parking that quickly fills up on a nice day, as well as a large map and kiosk with other trail info. The trip to and from Mima Falls totals about 6.5 miles depending on your route.
The trail is popular among hikers and equestrians and is a beginner to intermediate level mountain biking trail. The trail features some harsher grades, but was easily doable for a novice mountain biker like myself. The biggest difficulty on the trail is avoiding all the horse droppings.
Make sure you don’t miss Mima Falls on your ride though, as the trail continues over a bridge and passed the hidden falls. Mima Falls is about a 25-foot waterfall covered by a dense tree line. Some signage marks small foot trails that lead to the falls. It is a calm place to stop for a break and makes for great pictures. Above the falls is a clearing with a picnic table, perfect for stopping to eat lunch or grabbing a quick snack.
For more ambitious mountain bikers, the Mima Falls trail crosses the bridge at the end of the clearing and runs all the way to another popular spot, the Fall Creek Trailhead.
The Fall Creek Trailhead and Greenline Trail
The Fall Creek Trailhead is located in the center of the Capitol Forest on Capitol Forest Road, just passed the Fall Creek Campground. The trailhead has bathroom and large map and allows access to both the Greenline Trail and Wedekind Trail.
The more advanced Greenline Trail is one of the most popular trails for mountain bikers. It is a challenging ride and offers access to 2,659-foot Capitol Peak. Capitol Peak is the second highest peak of the Black Hills, and gives a view of the Cascades, Olympics, and the Pacific Ocean. This view is well worth the work.
The total distance from the trailhead to the peak comes to about 10.4 miles if you stick to the Greenline. However, riders can opt to take the Greenline Tie and Wedekind trails back down instead.
The peak is dominated by cell phone towers and satellites, but a short walk past all the structures makes it clear why it is such a popular destination. There is periodical work being down around the peak so make sure to be aware of trucks and workers around the site.
After over 10 miles of riding in this summer weather, riders might need a good way to cool down. Luckily, on the way back home from either trailhead, bikers can stop at Black Lake for a quick swim.
For a map and more information about these and other trails, visit the Washington Department of Natural Resources website.