Where to Find Great Mountain Biking Trails in Every Direction from Seattle
With lush forested hills, avid trail builders, and a temperate climate conducive to year-round riding, the Pacific Northwest is one of the world’s premier regions for mountain biking.
Our cool, wet spring has kept the ground moist so far, which means this summer holds promise for the grippy, high-traction trail surface that has mountain bikers swooning. Pedaling through the woods over roots, rocks and logs is the price of admission for the thrill of hurtling down a trail and around a banked bend (called a berm), moss-covered trees and sword ferns a a blur of green that fades into an emerald lurks in your field of vision.
Thanks to the hard work of Washington’s volunteer mountain bike clubs, there are hundreds of miles of trails to try, from gentle cross-country cruisers perfect for getting into the sport, to steep trails reserved for experts with features of skips that lead to mandatory airtime. For an optimal browsing experience, download the Forks app and load one of these trail networks onto your smartphone.
Point your tire in any of Seattle’s four cardinal directions and you’ll find unique trail systems worthy of the trip. Here are four samples to get you started in the direction you choose. Wear a helmet and pads, pack essentials like snacks and water, bring a change kit, and give in to other trail users. Good ride.
North: Mount Galbraith
The mountain that made Bellingham a world-class mountain biking mecca. Galbraith spans over 3,000 acres on the edge of the city of subdued excitement. There are 65 miles of single track trails to choose from thanks to the hard work of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition. For easier access, start with the brand new South car park. (Just down the road on Samish Way, Transition bikes offers demonstrations, a full-service bike shop and a cafe for meals and drinks before or after the ride.) Look both ways, then cross Samish Way and take Pipeline Road to immerse yourself in what can be first appear as an intimidatingly dense trail map. Beginners should head to Lost Giants and Bunny Trails to get their feet wet. For flowing trails with jumps and berms, head to Mullet and Unemployment Line. More advanced riders can tackle Irish Death and Das Autobahn. Want to add some live music to your mountain biking afternoon? See you from July 8 to 10 for the very first Northwest Focus Festival.
East: Mountains to Sound Greenway
The corridor between Seattle and Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 is the Evergreen Mountain Bike AllianceA gift that keeps on giving: easy access, near you, endless variety. Consider these three starting points.
Heading east from Seattle, your first stop is the Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park in Issaquah. Every type of feature you might encounter on a mountain bike trail—logs to traverse, berms to bend, drop-offs to negotiate—are packed into 6 miles and laid out so beginners can develop their skills. skills in complete safety while aspiring to Freeride. World Tour riders can take on big aerial jumps again and again. The south-bound Grand Ridge Trail offers intermediate cross-country practice to build your endurance.
Eastern Tiger Mountain is south of I-90 along Highway 18. From the trailhead, travel the 3.5 mile climb over 1,650 vertical feet on the winding logging road to East Tiger Summit, where views of Mount Rainier await on a clear day. From the top, Off The Grid offers an advanced ride before softening up on mid-level options like Joy Ride and Inside Passage. For an easier descent, cut right on the forest road before the final push to the summit to take the Quick Link and Master Link beginner trails. Do you aspire to tackle the toughest hikes our region has to offer? Eye-ball Predator for 2 miles of black diamond double intensity downhill only.
Pass Snoqualmie Point Park and you will find the trailhead for raging river, a network of trails that spill out from the western end of Rattlesnake Ridge. All rides begin with the gentle 1,060-foot vertical climb on Upward Mobility, 3 miles that allows good practice of uphill and downhill technique. Extend your hike on the Raging Ridge Trail, 6 miles of intermediate riding that leads to more challenging descents like Poppin’ Tips, No Service, and Invictus (arguably the toughest stretch of trail in the state). On the way back to the trailhead, try the aptly named intermediate flow state.
South: Capitol State Forest
While the South Sound isn’t the most obvious destination for woods and trails, the 110,000-acre Capitol State Forest outside Olympia is a quiet monster. Rock Candy Mountain Trailhead is your entry point.
Since 2005, Friends of the Capitol Forest has transformed this parcel of Department of Natural Resources land with over 100 miles of trails – and for the gravel riders among you, hundreds of gravel roads. With less vertical terrain than the foothills of the Cascades, Capitol Forest is an ideal destination for cross-country hikes like the 10-mile poker tower or the 30 miles Captoberfest itinerary. In recent years, the Friends have also carved out purpose-built one-way mountain bike trails like Scoby or Down and Rowdy that are packed with freeride features. Note that in addition to Trailforks, Capitol Forest Map is accessible on the Avenza app.
West: Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park
Whether you live on the Kitsap Peninsula or are just looking for an excuse to take your bike on a ferry, mountain biking awaits just outside the restored mill town of Port Gamble.
This modest trail network at low elevation shaped by Evergreen West Sound is set to make its major debut when it hosts the Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival for the first time from June 18 to 19. The festival will be an opportunity to present the upcoming opening Port Gamble Armory Parkwhich will offer the kinds of dedicated freeride features that have made Duthie Hill a premier destination for Puget Sound.
Start at the stump trailhead and warm up on the beginner stumps before taking the intermediate secret squirrel. Cross a logging road and race down The Hood and Downhell, then up the logging road to the trail system’s three descent options: Ranger (intermediate), Cool Runnings (advanced) and Owl Pacino (expert). The Ewok Climb Trail is your return route to the top of the slopes.
Port Gamble proper is just a mile north of the trailhead. Go back in time to Port Gamble General Store and Cafe fill up the gas tank. open air olympic center rents bikes (and kayaks too, if you want to make it a multi-sport day).