Capitol State Forest
Located southwest of Olympia in the Black Hills of Grays Harbor and Thurston counties, the 110,000-acre Capitol State Forest is both a timber-producing forest and a popular recreation destination. Like many of the forests DNR manages, the lands in Capitol State Forest are trust lands managed to provide sustainable revenue in support of schools, state universities and local county public services. The chief sources of trust revenue in this forest include timber production, biomass byproducts, communication tower leases, and other activities.
Capitol State Forest is one of DNR's highest timber-yielding forests and is conveniently located near where the department's replanting effort seedlings are grown, at Webster Forest Nursery. Click here to view a map of completed and proposed Capitol State Forest timber sales. In addition to earning income, Capitol Forest’s undeveloped working lands provide habitat for native plants and animals, water retention and water quality benefits, and diverse recreation opportunities.
Capitol State Forest is a beautiful recreation destination just a short drive from Olympia. Venture into the 110,000-acre forest for an adventure horseback riding at Mima Falls, spotting salmon in McLane Creek, mountain biking at Rock Candy, off-road-vehicle riding at Porter Creek – or all of the above! Capitol State Forest provides a variety of recreational opportunities, 150 miles of trail, and places to set up camp and rest your head at night. Horseback riding-oriented campgrounds, like the Margaret McKenny, offer corrals and hitching posts, while off-road vehicle-oriented campgrounds, like the Middle Waddell, provide access to the forest's motorized trail system.
Recreation alert: Snowy weather makes the roads icy and treacherous. Please use extreme caution when using motorized vehicles within Capitol Forest. Some trails are difficult to access if you become stranded and cell phone service is also limited.
Check out this map of all our trails in Capitol State Forest or take a closer look at the McLane Creek and Fall Creek trail systems. You can also download our georeferenced map to your smartphone using the Avenza PDF Maps Mobile app.
2020 Events Calendar
Click here to see what events our partners are hosting in Capitol State Forest in 2020.
Capitol State Forest tips
- Capitol Forest campgrounds are closed Dec. 1 to April 30 for the winter season.
- Camp only in designated campgrounds. No dispersed camping allowed
- Stays are limited to seven days per year.
- Off-road vehicle riders and horseback riders can enjoy Capitol State Forest trails from May 1 to November 30.
- Trails are open to foot traffic year-round.
- E-bikes (motorized assist bikes) are considered motorized vehicles and are therefore allowed only on DNR trails that allow off-road vehicles.
- Dogs are allowed in Capitol Forest but must be kept on leash. Horseback riders and mountain bikers may bring unleashed dogs if they are controlled by voice command.
- Be alert for other road users, ranging from heavy vehicles to bicycles, and check your speed accordingly.
Capitol State Forest has areas closed to target shooting. No target shooting is allowed:
- On a 5-mile corridor on the C-Line, starting from D-4000 up to Low Bank Pit
- On the D-4000 between the C-Line and D-Line
Triangle Pit is open to target shooters. Click here for an infographic with target shooting rules when there is not a recreation alert in place. Noncompliance could lead to closure.
Recreation alert: Triangle Pit will be closing one hour early (open to target shooting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) from Nov. 3 until March 8.
Other tips for your visit
- Don’t forget your Discover Pass! Learn more about it at DiscoverPass.wa.gov
- Campsites are available first come, first served at no additional cost with the purchase of a Discover Pass. There are five reservation sites available at Margaret McKenny Campground.
- Enjoy a campfire in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds only. Always check for burn restrictions before lighting a campfire.
- Don't Move Firewood. Help protect Pacific Northwest forests by preventing the spread of invasive species. Firewood can carry insects and diseases that can threaten the health of our western forests. Please purchase firewood near your campsite. Find more information here.
Wildlife sightings: There have been cougar and bear sightings in the Capitol Forest area. Check out information from WDFW here for what to do if you encounter a cougar or bear. To report a sighting call WDFW (877)-933-9847.
Recreation alert: The Little Larch Trail is closed to the second road crossing and the Level Up Trail is closed from the C-6000 to Little Larch Mountain for a timber harvest in the area. Please check back for updates.
Leave No Trace
For your safety and the safety of our wildlife, please follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace. You can brush up on them here. Food and garbage that is left behind or improperly disposed of can attract wildlife and create potentially dangerous situations for visitors. Please pack out all food items and garbage. NEVER feed wildlife.
Fall Creek Campground and Trailhead
This campground is a favorite among local equestrian groups. The trailhead provides access to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking opportunities. Fall Creek Campground has eight campsites, a horse corral, and toilet. Be sure to check the Capitol Forest event schedule above for events that could impact campground availability. Check out the Fall Creek Trail System map, new May 2019, here.
Directions: From Waddell Creek Road continue west on Sherman Valley Road. At the intersection of Noschka Road go west on C-Line Road 3.3 miles. Turn left on C-6000 Road and go south 2.5 miles. Trailhead is on right. Get directions.
Recreation alert: For timber harvest operations the C-6000 (road to Fall Creek) will close during week days until 3 pm starting Jan 27, 2020. The C-6000 road will be open on the weekends.The upper sections of Level Up will be closed during this 3 week period. Currently the upper section of Little Larch is closed.
Margaret McKenny Campground and Trailhead
Margaret McKenny is an equestrian-oriented campground with horse corrals. The campground has 24 sites, three toilets, and a camp host site with a shelter. Trailhead provides access to non-motorized trails in Capitol State Forest. Campers are required to register on site.
There are five reservation campsites in Margaret McKenny Campground. Reservations must be made at least three days before and no more than three months in advance of your visit. You may only reserve one site. Find campsite reservation instructions here.
Sites with unfilled reservations are available after 7 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis, one night only.
Directions: Continue on Waddell Creek Road from Mima Mound Natural Area entrance for 1.6 miles. Turn left. Go .2 miles to site. Get directions.
McLane Creek Nature Trail
This 1.5-mile hiking-only trail offers an excellent location for viewing wildlife and is open year-round. While the trail takes hikers along the creek, visitors can also view the beaver pond in the day-use area. View our trail map.
Directions: Start 4 miles west of Olympia at Mud Bay exit of US-Hwy 101. Go south on Delphi Road for 3.3 miles. Turn right for .4 miles to site. Get directions.
Middle Waddell Campground and Trailhead
This ORV-oriented campground offers access to Capitol State Forest's 89 miles of motorized trail. The campground has 24 campsites and four toilets. Campers are required to register on site.
Directions: Continue west on Waddell Creek Road from Margaret McKenny entrance for 1.2 miles. Turn left .1 miles to site. Get directions.
Mima Falls Trailhead
This equestrian-oriented trailhead has a horse ramp and room for horse trailers. The trailhead provides hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers access to Capitol State Forest non-motorized trails. Find a map of the Mima Falls trail system here.
Directions: Start in Littlerock. Go west for .8 miles. Turn left on Mima Road. Go 1.3 miles. Turn right on Bordeaux Road. Go .7 miles. Turn right on Marksman Road. Go .9 miles. Turn left. Go .2 miles to site. Get directions.
Porter Creek Campground
Porter Creek Campground is a popular area for motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and picnicking in the day-use area. This 16-campsite campground is near Porter Creek and surrounded by large Douglas-fir trees. Campers are required to register on site.
Directions: Start at junction of SR-12 and Porter Creek Road. Go northeast on Porter Creek Road for 3.4 miles. At the intersection, go straight on B-line Road for .6 miles. Site is on left. Get directions.
Rock Candy Trailhead
Rock Candy Trailhead is a trail system primarily for off-road vehicle and mountain bike riders, as well as hikers. Trail ascends to an open summit with views of the Olympia Mountains and the Puget Sound. Toilet at trailhead.
Directions: From the intersection with US-Hwy 101, go west on SR-8 for 4.5 miles, to the Rock Candy entrance to Capitol Forest. Go south on B-Line Road for .2 mi. to site. Get directions.
Other recreation opportunities
DNR's Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is located just outside Capitol State Forest and offers a short nature walk. The nearby Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve and Chehalis River Surge Plain Natural Area Preserve also provide low-impact recreation opportunities. Use our statewide interactive recreation map to find more recreation opportunities near you.