The hills and forests of Grays Harbor are full of adventure, explaining why the region is known as a recreation paradise. For dirt bike riders and ATV enthusiasts, the region is a growing destination, offering access to towering trees, wild trails and long rides. While the Grays Harbor ORV course is a great way to ride, those looking for something a little more wild have impressive options. Giving riders a handful of destinations, Grays Harbor should be visited and explored often. Each season offers its own level of fun and excitement, from the trails in the Capitol Forest to the east, to the remote dirt roads in Olympic National Forest to the west.

Capitol Forest Dirt Bikes and ATV Trails

dirt bikes ATV
Riding up to Rock Candy is a fun day out in the Capitol Forest of Washington State. Photo courtesy: ThurstonTalk.

On the eastern side of the county, the Capitol Forest provides days of riding opportunities for riders of all ages, levels and styles. Offering around 100 miles of trails and roads, the state forest is the premiere place to ride in the region. Open from May 1 through November 30, the mostly hard-pack forested routes offer a little something for everyone. On the trails, you’ll encounter steep hills, water crossings, a few small jumps and the typical hazards one would expect when riding through the woods. Roughly 80 percent of the ridable terrain found around the Capitol Forest is great for amateurs, making this a great destination for those looking to hone their skills or have a leisurely day out. That doesn’t mean advanced riders should skip the area.

If you want to be challenged, you can still find some gnarly routes: one fifth, or roughly 20 miles, of the trails are expert level terrain. We recommend checking out the route that leads from Porter Creek up to Larch Mountain, then grabbing Capitol Peak before making a huge loop back to your vehicle. Routes like this are what make Capitol Forest a favorite for locals and visitors alike and is one of the highlights for anyone looking to ride ATVs or dirt bikes in Grays Harbor.

Those looking for a multi-day riding adventure can use the Porter Creek Campground near Elma, Washington as a basecamp. There are just 16 sites in this free camping area, so arrive early to make sure you get a spot. From Porter Creek, you’ll be granted access to all of the ATV and dirt bike friendly trails in Capitol Forest. The trails lead east, into Thurston County, where you can almost ride all the way to Olympia on nothing but trails and remote roads.

In order to enjoy the Capitol Forest, you’ll need a Discover Pass. This annual pass will also grant you access to Washington’s State Parks. Keep in mind that trails and roads are subject to closure, as this is an active, working forest and occasionally logging operations do take place. Updates on the logging and closures can be found on the Washington DNR website.

Olympic National Forest Dirt Bikes and ATV Trails

Miles of trails await riders of all levels at Capitol Forest. Photo courtesy: Washington State DNR.

Elsewhere around the county, ridable trails are few and far between, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the remote dirt roads around Grays Harbor. In Olympic National Forest, you won’t find ridable trails, but the roads are wild enough for a day’s worth of exploration in some of the wettest regions of America. The roads are pretty well maintained, but sometimes too extreme for cars and trucks. Most of these roads are open year-round, allowing you a chance to ride out and experience things the average visitor to the region may not see.

To ride the roads, you can take your non-highway vehicle out, but there are a few rules and regulations to follow. Your rig will need ORV registration and a decal for non-highway vehicle, or registration and metal tag for Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicles (WATV). Riders under 16-years-old must be supervised by an adult, while helmets need to be worn by all operators, unless the vehicle is equipped with seat belts and roll bars or an enclosed passenger compartment. Once you are good to go, you can look at the detailed Olympic National Forest motor vehicle map and start planning your trip!

Riding in the wood provides all kinds of surprises. Photo courtesy: Douglas Scott.

One of the favorite areas to ride and explore is up near Wynoochee Lake, north of Montesano. Here, you’ll find wild forests and miles upon miles of roads leading every direction. If you head off of Forest Road 22, which runs from Wynoochee Lake to Highway 101 near Lake Quinault, you’ll discover old growth forests, wild rivers and all sorts of paths to ride. On this route, you’ll pass through areas rumored to be home to Sasquatch, while seeing elk, deer and maybe the occasional black bear.

Riding your dirt bike or ATV around Grays Harbor gives you a better glimpse at what makes this area so great. Well-maintained trails help introduce riders to the wilds of the region, while the roads and paths around the forests give everyone an opportunity to enjoy hours of adventures. If you haven’t yet made your way to the regions mentioned above, plan a trip and head out to discover the beauty in Grays Harbor.


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