Six Mountain Bike Zones to Check Out Around Hood Canal

While popular mountain biking trail networks like Seattle, Port Angeles, and the Capital Forest network dot the outskirts, a circumnavigation of the Hood Canal will uncover some local favorites and family-friendly riding. 


These zones can be accessed by day trip from a home-base picturesque cabin rental on the water or through more of a nomadic road trip utilizing campsites as you go. Whatever your style of travel, family needs, or riding goals a fully customizable mountain bike-centric trip can be found here.  

While these six areas are predominantly beginner and intermediate trails with the occasionally rowdy advanced downhill track, within an hour from any one spot, there is an abundance of variety in both the trails and scenery. 

#1. South Fork Skokomish Trail

The South Fork Skokomish Trail wanders beautifully through old-growth forest as it crosses its namesake river and several streams along the way while climbing gently for the first two miles. 

Beyond that, it continues up at a steep grade as the trail rises above the river valley. Another five miles along, the trail ends at the Olympic National Park boundary. This is a great spot to catch your breath before enjoying the exciting downhill that you’ve earned. 

The Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail heads nine miles in the opposite direction. This section tends to be less maintained but if you’re up for an adventure it is worth the challenge. The trail takes you through more stunning Olympic National Forest old-growth and roughly a mile in from the northern trail entrance, it fords a river that can only safely be crossed between August and early October. Despite the challenge of added brush and fallen trees, this section of South Fork Skokomish Trail has far less elevation to contend with than the upper and it can be shuttled as it has parking at both ends. 

For a list of Lodging in this area, click here.

2. West Shelton

The West Shelton trail network has nine miles of cross-country trails that can be accessed from the heart of Shelton. Nearly all the trails are rated green and while there are a few punchy climbs, there is no sustained elevation for beginner riders to worry about. 

Flowy trails like Au Natural, She’s a Pitch, Single Track, and Tie In, tend to have flowy sections, pitchy climbs, and some gentle flats. A few, especially the aptly named Sometimes a River, can turn into small streams after a good rain but generally, this area makes for great year-round riding. To view the network of trails available in Shelton, vsit trailforks.com/region/shelton.

Both Union and Shelton would be convenient home bases to explore this trail network.

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3. Green Mountain

A 22 mile network of mostly beginner and intermediate multi use trails with a couple of advanced downhill routes in the mix. There are two trails heads, Gold Creek and Wildcat, on opposite sides of the mountain that both lead to the Vista Summit and fun descents. Climbing up the sometimes rocky and loose Wildcat Trail will give you a challenging 1100 feet of gain in 4.5 miles and deliver stunning views of Bremerton and Seattle. On particularly clear days, riders will also be treated to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams too.  While the trails here are primarily categorized as cross-country, there is quite a bit of variety to be had. Wildcat Trail from the summit is loose and fast with flowy berms and plenty of tech available. For those looking for a long and more challenging climb on an out-and-back that delivers a speedy and fun descent on the return, Gold Creek Trail would be the best choice. But with the same elevation gain of 1100 feet, this time in just over 2 miles, riders need to make sure their legs are ready for the challenge.

Camping in the Tahuya State Forest or staying in one of the many lodging around Belfair would be a great option to make a weekend of exploring these trails.

#4. Forest Heritage Park 

Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park offers 33.5 miles of everything from beginner to advanced all-mountain trails. The network is linked by non-motorized use logging roads and includes a range of tech and flow with a little something for everyone. Green rated trails like Outer Limits are easy cross-country trails with just enough variation to be great for teaching new riders. Clear Cut and Twisted Sister are other beginner trails that offer some fun corners and mostly flat terrain to learn on.

Intermediate trails include  Ankle Biter, the longest climb or descent in the park depending on your direction; Derailed, a relatively new downhill trail with a few tabletop jumps and optional doubles; The Hood, a flow trail with berms and small optional jumps; and Forbidden Forest, a rooty and technical singletrack route. 

Drop Tail is one of the few advanced trails here and is a short track that includes a few drops and bridges. The range for all abilities packed into this trail network is impressive making it an easy crowd-pleaser no matter who you’re traveling with. 

#5. Lower Big Quilcene

This intermediate 6.2 miles of lowland forested trail offers a scenic pedal along the Big Quilcene River. Lush moss lines an old roadbed through a young forest before winding through massive old-growth cedars. Blooming rhododendrons add bursts of color to the forest greens in spring and summer. For anyone looking for a light bike-packing adventure, there is an established campsite just under 3 miles from the trailhead right on the banks of the river. 

This trail can be ridden as a 12.4-mile out-and-back or a shuttle can be arranged with a pick-up at the FS Road 2750 exit.  

For a list of Lodging in this area, click here.

#6. Gold Creek-Dungeness 

Just a short drive up the forest service road from the Lower Big Quilcene trail is a huge trail network boasting 43 miles of multi-use trails connected by fire roads. 

About the Author

Danielle Baker is a freelance writer from Squamish, BC. Her work can be viewed in FreeHub Magazine, Mountain Life, Red Bull Canada, Eskapee, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Pinkbike.com, and many others.