As you get on your bike saddle and take the first few pedals through the bumpy, forest trails, it is clear that mountain biking around Grays Harbor is unlike anywhere else. Under giant, old growth timber, along salmon-filled rivers, next to the breakers of the mighty Pacific and through river valleys known for their incredible wilderness beauty, the trails for mountain bikers in the Grays Harbor community are iconic, pristine and adventurous.
Grays Harbor is becoming well-known among mountain bikers for its beautiful trails, challenging routes and the uncrowded miles of majestic riding, thanks to groups like Connect Grays Harbor and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. Mountain biking is gaining popularity around the Olympic Peninsula, with Grays Harbor emerging as one of the leaders. While numerous trails are possible to ride for hours, if not days, at a time, the following five routes provide a fantastic introduction to the stellar riding available around the Southern Olympic Peninsula.
Along the coast, Seabrook is quickly emerging as a coastal haven for mountain bikers. Two decades ago, just a few locals rode largely unknown trails along the North Beach. Today, miles of riding opportunities have been created and groomed around Seabrook, combining logging roads with single track trails, including overlooks of the Pacific Ocean. The best part of Seabrook isn’t just the gorgeous trails that currently exist, it’s the realization that the region’s trail system is growing and that this stretch of the Pacific is quickly becoming a must-ride destination in Washington State. As eagles soar overhead and the constant sound of waves breaking fills the silent moments of your ride, Seabrook is the ideal place to start your Grays Harbor mountain biking adventures. While there, visit local bike expert Buck Giles at Buck’s Bikes.
2. Lower and Upper West Fork Humptulips
Tucked in the gorgeous Olympic National Forest, near wilderness areas and the Olympic National Park, the West Fork Humptulips offers nearly 17 miles of trails, perfect for some of the most wild and awesome single track rides in the region. Located in a lush valley with towering old growth and seemingly untouched forests, the routes along the “Hump” are for hearty riders and those looking for a challenge. While the trail grades typically stick to less than 10%, there are steep sections, topping out at a 20% incline. Along the trail, which fords the river a handful of times, no bridges are available forcing you to ford the often fast-flowing Humptulips. This trail is beyond epic, but make sure you check the stream levels before you head out.
3. Lake Sylvia
Close to the town of Montesano, just minutes from Highway 12, eleven miles of dirt roads and single track trails are longing for your tires to grace their presence. Offering 600 feet of elevation gain spread throughout second and third growth forests, there are numerous routes and trails to discover in and around Lake Sylvia State Park, some of which are mapped, others that are not. The most common loop to ride is the five mile Sylvia Ridge Loop, which includes great sections of trail, fun views and some intense downhills that will have you wanting to ride the loop a few times. Even with no route determined ahead of time, the trails around Lake Sylvia make for an amazing day of riding in Grays Harbor.
4. Wynoochee Lake
Hidden in the southern reaches of the Olympic Peninsula, in a region known for the stories of logging giant trees, Sasquatch and wilderness solitude, 17 miles of single track amazingness are found. Known as the Wynoochee Lake Shore Trail, this local favorite encircles the lake on a trail that can be as rough and wild as the pristine forests in all directions. Much of the trail is nice and smooth, however, with enough ups and downs to get your heart rate up. This trail is for those hoping for an adventure far from the nearest amenities. Starting at the Coho Campground, which can see quite a few day hikers and boaters, the trail empties out quickly after a first few miles, giving you solitude for miles in this remote destination.
5. Capitol Forest
On the eastern edge of Grays Harbor along Highway 12, the trails of the Capitol Forest are an incredibly popular destination for outdoor recreation. Sharing trails with Thurston County, the Capitol Forest is divided into two sides: one for motorized recreation, the other for non-motorized. The south half is full of trails for hikers, runners, horses and mountain bikers, giving riders an awesome place to enjoy second and third growth forests on well-maintained trails. A favorite route is found east of the tiny town of Porter, known as the Porter-Crestline-Greenline Loop. Offering good elevation gain, a few great views and some pretty rad descents, the trails at the Capitol Forest are quickly becoming a hotspot for human-powered outdoor recreation.
Tune up your bike and hit the trails. As the snows melt away and the wildflowers bloom, it’s the perfect time to explore the beauty of Grays Harbor County on your mountain bike.