Capitol State Forest
Attention: Alerts and Closures
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.
To view a map of completed and proposed Capitol State Forest timber sales, click here. 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. Get the herbicide treatment map here. Please note: There will be no treatment on weekends or within 10 feet of trails. Signs will be placed on trails at the beginning of the treatment areas and will remain up for 30 days.
Capitol State Forest is a beautiful recreation destination just a short drive from Olympia. Venture into the 110,000-acre forest for 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.
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. Download the North Slope trail system map. You can also download our georeferenced map to your smartphone using the Avenza PDF Maps Mobile app.
2021 Events Calendar
Click here to see details about upcoming events happening in Capitol State Forest in 2021.
Capitol State Forest tips
- Capitol Forest campgrounds are closed from Nov. 1 to Apr. 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 Nov. 30.
- Trails are open to foot traffic year-round.
- E-bikes (motorized assist bikes) are not allowed on non-motorized shared-use trails in Capitol Forest. E-bikes are allowed on Capitol Forest motorized trails and at the North Slope mountain biking area near Gray’s Harbor ORV park.
- Dogs are allowed in Capitol Forest but must be kept on a leash. Horseback riders 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.
- Competing vegetation management will begin to take place on Jul. 6. There will not be any activity on Fridays or during weekends. Download the map of the affected areas here.
The Triangle Pit at Capitol State Forest is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note: On August 23, 2021, the hours of operations will permanently change to 10:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Also note: that the Capitol State Forest has areas closed to target shooting. Target shooting is not 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
Learn more about recreational target shooting in DNR-managed lands. Click here for an infographic with target shooting rules when there is not a recreation alert in place.
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 basis until Nov. 1, 2020, 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 more than 100 miles. 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. 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.
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.
This campground is OPEN for the season.
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 a restroom. 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. The campground will remain open on a first-come, first-serve basis until Oct. 5.
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.
Margaret McKenny Campground and Trailhead
This campground is OPEN for the season.
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. All sites are on a first-come-first-served basis and stays are limited to 7 days per calendar year. Campers are required to register on-site. You can find the site map here.
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. McLane is open between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. daily.
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 campground and day use area will open for the season May 13.
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. After Labor Day, the campground will remain open on a first-come, first-serve basis until Nov. 30.
Directions: Continue west on Waddell Creek Road from Margaret McKenny's entrance for 1.2 miles. Turn left .1 miles to the site. Get directions.
Recreation alert: Waddell Basin West trail is closed near the C-9000 for the Onion timber sale. The trail will likely remain closed past the closure for motorized use on trails on Dec. 1.
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
This campground is OPEN for the season.
Porter Creek Campground is a popular area for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), 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. Download a map of the area. After Labor Day, the campground will remain open on a first-come, first-serve basis until Nov. 2.
Directions: Start at the 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. The site is on left. Get directions.
Recreation alert: The lower midsection of the Porter trail is currently closed for forest management operations. Trail users can detour to the road, and this closure is expected to last two months.
Rock Candy Trailhead
Rock Candy Trailhead is a trail system primarily for off-road vehicle and mountain bike riders, as well as hikers. The trail ascends to an open summit with views of the Olympia Mountains and the Puget Sound. Restroom at the 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 the 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.