2-Day Mountain Bike Trip in Capitol Forest, Washington

Whenever I get back from a weekend of bikepacking or mountain biking in the pacific northwest, I feel like I’ve just completed some never-before-experienced nirvana-like adventure that can’t possibly be topped by doing it again, only to experience a similar feeling on my next bikepacking/mountain biking trip.  It’s an emotional state of being whose description often eludes me, and in turn makes it hard to relay to others, but I often leave such trips feeling content and sustained.  It’s only taken me 29 years, but I think that after completing another weekend trip in paradise – this time in Capitol Forest – I’m finally beginning to understand the feng shui voodoo facilitated by the beauty of the pacific northwest.

Pacific Northwest Feng Shui

Arriving at Capitol Forest

This ride began Friday evening as Brandon Davis (who deserves props for coming up with the routes this time) and I traveled into the depths of Capitol Forest to Fall Creek Campground.  This particular campground is well off the beaten path and just so happens to be smack dab in the middle of two incredible mountain bike trails.  I arrived at the campground around 6:30pm, while Brandon arrived around 8:30pm, and after setting up camp, catching up, talking bikes, and Brandon throwing three hot dogs down his gullet, we went to bed.

Car camping is pretty plush.

The bike.

The fire.

The food. What more do you need in life?

Oh, right… the beer.

The Map

Want to download a GPX version of this map, or just more detail?  Click here.

Day 1 – Into the Abyss!

After cooking up some breakfast burritos and coffee over the fire, Brandon and I headed out for a 4 mile uphill slog on the Wedekind trail.  Throughout this trail, heavy fog mixed with a light dusting of occasional precipitation made us feel like we were in an enchanted rain forest.  As we approached one particularly impenetrable-looking wall of fog Brandon exclaimed, “Into the abyss!”, which seemed appropriate as the foggy apparition slowly swallowed us up.

Brandon’s special breakfast burritos.

Let the riding begin!

My new Marin Pine Mountain 2 is THE BEST.

As we approached one particularly impenetrable-looking wall of fog Brandon exclaimed, “Into the abyss!”, which seemed appropriate as the foggy apparition slowly swallowed us up.

This route also had us transitioning between lush neon green vegetation and logged barren dirt mounds, a rather stark contrast where Brandon and I decided Lord of the Rings wildness met Fern Gully rainforest destruction.  These bleak encounters were few though, and soon we found ourselves in the permanent solitude of the forest.

Lord of the Rings Wildness.

Fern Gully destruction.

More destruction.

After getting back to camp around 1:30pm, we cooked up some food (Brandon knocked out another 3 hot dogs) and decided we wanted to continue riding.  So we hopped back on the bikes and headed back up the Wedekind Trail, took a connector back over to a downhill section we had done already called the Greenline Trail, and headed back down a second time,  adding on 9 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation to our 29 mile/4,000 feet of elevation ride earlier that day.

Selfie!

Nature loves Brandon.

So many options… let’s just do them all.

The top of Capitol Peak looked kind of like a scene from a horror movie.

Friends Of Capitol Forest (FOCF) is a nonprofit organization that helps keep the trails looking good for hikers, bikers, and equestrian riders, and it shows; these trails were in pristine condition.

This trail was so good that Brandon and I climbed an extra 1,500 feet just so we could do it again.

Grasshoppa! When at a crossroad in life, always take the harder path… it will bring more rewards.

Root shredding.

Evening festivities included an array of beers, more hot dogs for Brandon (he would finish the day with an impressive 14 total hot dogs lodged in his stomach… possibly permanent residents there), fire, battle-scar reminiscences from the day’s riding, and general camp shenanigans.

MMmmm…. hot dogs.

Fire building.

 

Drying our soggy shoes.

 

Day 2 – Hexxus Wins (Fern Gully Reference… look it up)

The Proposed Map

Want to download a GPX version of this map, or just more detail?  Click here.

The Modified Route

Want to download a GPX version of this map, or just more detail?  Click here.

In the morning, after coffee, more breakfast burritos, and a hot dog and cheese quesadilla I made specifically to add to Brandon’s hot dog count (16 now, if you’re paying attention), we headed towards the other side of the forest on the Mima Porter and Lost Valley Trails.  Unfortunately, our intended route got cut short because of logging, and even after attempting to jog over to some other trails on a logging road, we were thwarted once again by signage warning us to keep off the trails.  We graciously accepted defeat and headed back towards camp, content with our two day’s worth of riding and excited to return again to the area with our other MTB cronies.

Welp, couldn’t go that way apparently.  So we found a nearby forest road that led to the other portion of singletrack in this area.

Climbed this to get to a forest road.

Which led to this… game over.

After getting back to camp and packing up, Brandon and I both had one final celebratory beer and talked about the weekend’s highlights, as well as potential rides in the near future.  As I drove home thinking about the fun we had over the weekend, I realized that Pacific Northwest Feng Shui manifests itself through multiple mediums – isolation, camaraderie, present-mindedness, reflection, and wonder, to name a few – but all of them revolve around the beautiful natural surroundings of our diverse landscape.

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Categories: Oregon Bikepacking, Pedals and Packs

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8 replies »

  1. Ben,

    This is awesome story telling and awesome photography. The line, ” I realized that Pacific Northwest Feng Shui manifests itself through multiple mediums – isolation, camaraderie, present-mindedness, reflection, and wonder, to name a few” captures the intensity and preciousness of this experience. “Into the abyss” makes me wish I were a few years younger so that this experience could be mine too, physically instead of just experiencing it vicariously. Kudos to you for taking the time to record this in both pictures and word.

    Like

    • High praise! Glad you enjoyed this one. And just because you can’t mountain bike doesn’t mean we can’t meet up at campsites for hiking or backpacking together. Lots of ways to get your ‘pacific northwest feng shui’ on!

      Like

    • Hi Nick, it’s true. Between the two sections of singletrack we rode and the endless ORV trails, you could spend days riding and still not cover everything. Definitely worth checking out when you have a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We drive up to Capitol Forest from Portland to ride often but have yet to camp. Thinking we might want to camp next time at Falls Creek but we love camping near water for dishwashing and relaxing in with a beer after a long ride. Was Falls Creek actually accessible from the campground? And was it anything more than a small stream, if so? Great write up. We will have to check out some new riding options!

    Like

    • Hi Jade – thanks for the comment! It sounds like you have more experience with the wonders of Capitol Forest than I do, but yes, the stream is definitely accessible from the campground; I periodically heard people on the trails behind our campsite hiking what I assume is some sort of creek trail, because it was right where the creek presumably is. However, my riding buddy and I never walked over to check out the stream. We both just brought loads of water so that we could always fill up once we got back to our campsite. With how wet Capitol Forest generally is, though, I’m guessing you could filter water out of the creek no problem!

      Like

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