The forest is made up of 110,000 acres, all managed by the Department of Natural Resources. They provide a user-friendly map that is color-coded and shows that the southern portion of the trails, reserved for foot, hoof, and paw traffic, are shown in light green and purple. There are approximately six trails for hikers-only, (shown in dark green on the map), and they possess older growth trees and even prairie.
If you want to be certain that you have the trail to yourself with no mountain bikers or equestrians, head to Bob Bammert Grove, Fuzzy Top, Porter Falls, Centennial Demonstration Forest, Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, and McLane Creek Nature Trail, with portions of the last two on the list being ADA accessible.
Regardless of which portion you plan to visit, you will likely encounter a number of other outdoor enthusiasts, recreating in the forest in the way that speaks to them. Jeff Barrette, a board member of Oly Trail Runners and also a longtime member of Friends of Capitol Forest, says he personally spends 500+ hours a year maintaining the trails for all to use. Thanks, Jeff! “There is so much to learn about Capitol Forest and it is such a great resource that many just don’t know about,” he shares.