By the Numbers
Two primary climbs, C-Line being the more challenging
- 45 miles
- 5700 feet
- No services, bring what you need for food & water
- The Safeway seems to be the most popular starting point, several rides originate from it’s lot.
- Strava | Ride with GPS
I rode the Capital Forest once before, for the 2019 Cascadia Super Gravel and I got lit up. I was riding my 29er mountain bike on which I didn’t have many miles and I had almost no idea what I was doing racing on gravel. I remember the climbs being steep, the descents fast, and the overall environment pretty incredible.
In preparing for #OptOutside and #RaphaBlackFridayRide I decided to return the forest to see if it was all I remembered. Rather than re-ride the Cascadia route I decided to ride the 50 mile version of the Evergreen Grinder which offered a bit more adventure, complete with single track (which I do not enjoy) and river crossings (which I do).
Since I was riding on my own and the ominous “BIG RIVER CROSSING. USE CAUTION.” warning had me wondering what I was riding towards, I decided to ride the route backwards so if the river was more than I could comfortably handle I could turn around and do another ride I had in mind. In re-routing I managed to screw up the route and ended up riding through some private property, sorry.
After parking at the Safeway and doing a short five mile road ride I found myself in the familiar position of staring at a fence. If you see this fence, you’ve gone the wrong way.
Finally back on track and on B-4000, riding towards the intersection with B-8000.
Out of the woods and on to the more exposed road B-8700 with great views and terrific climbing.
I pretty much exclusively ride Rene Herse Barlow Pass tires, road or gravel, and I rarely feel under tired but this ride was different, the chunky gravel and the slick roads had me wishing for something a little bigger and beefier.
Now the real adventure began. As I wrote earlier, on the RWGPS route there’s a warning about a “BIG RIVER CROSSING” about which I was pretty curious. It turns out B-8700 dead ends into a little cul-de-sac but there’s an unmarked-but-obvious connector trail.
The trail to the river was very muddy, very slick, and without much in the way of footholds, so it was a lot of holding on to trees and getting the bike down however I could.
The river wasn’t very big but it was a bike width or two wide. In August this would have been less of an issue but in late November, with many more miles to ride, I didn’t want to chance getting wet so I took my time and used the stones and my bike to get across safely. Quite a fun little diversion!
C-Line, a solid climb gaining almost 1900 feet over 7.5 miles, was easily the most trafficked of the roads with a random mixture of pavement, gravel, and slick mud.
Fortunately, the turn on to C-4000 brought quieter roads but some of the roughest from recent logging as well as crazy steep descending, some over 20%!
I am not a fan of single track and I especially didn’t enjoy Rock Candy, it was nominally a mountain bike trail but more suited to the ATVs passing me on the trail. On this day it was a swamp and after a few failed attempts to ride it I ended up hike-a-biking for the 1.1 miles, all-in-all it was fine but I far prefer the logging roads.
Terrific day in the Capital Forest and definitely warrants a return trip with more aggressive tires and a little more time!