Springtime is near. Create your bucket list now to ensure you can squeeze in every ounce of quintessential Pacific Northwest hikes this season. It’s not time to mess around. Before you get out and explore, here's some expert recommendations on how to approach one of Thurston County's hidden gems, Capitol State Forest.

First up in our bucket list series? Maybe you’re a weekend warrior who has explored the Mima Mounds or made your way along the McLane Creek Nature Trail, two popular and accessible outdoor adventures. Capitol State Forest offers incredible views and easy access from town. But how to choose from more than 150 miles of trails? Here are two decidedly different options recommended by Philip Wolff, Recreation Manager of Capitol State Forest.


  • Popular with in-the-know mountain bikers, trail runners and equestrians, the Wedekind Trail winds through scenic second and third-growth forests. Begin at the Fall Creek trailhead and head up the pass and continue past the intersection with Green Line tie, enter a burn area of a few years ago and view the old railroad grade cut. Continue on the trail and look for parts of an old railroad trestle on your left until arriving at the Wedekind Camp. Turn around here and head back to Fall Creek, for a 6-mile round trip adventure. This journey has sweeping forest views that will make you feel one with nature.


  • For something truly brag-worthy, join local mountain and dirt-bikers on the Al Davis Trail. Start at the Middle Waddell trailhead and take Waddell Basin East to the Al Davis Trail. From there, take a right on the D-4000 and travel down this to the Waddell Basin West Trail, which will be on the right (if you reach the C-line Road you have gone too far.) Make your way to the top of Mount Molly where there are gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier and Mount St. Helens on a clear day.


Philip also encourages adventurers to pack a Discover Pass, lots of water and download the Capitol State Forest mobile map from this link www.dnr.wa.gov/MobileMaps. Printed maps are available for $9 online or at bike and outdoor retailers in town. Make sure to share your adventures with us by tagging social posts #DecidedlyDifferent and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter (@Experience_Oly) and Instagram (@ExperienceOly).