The e-bike boom offers more than just the newest way to explore the outdoors. Electric-assisted bikes also let riders experience the Capitol State Forest North Slope’s designated e-bike trails while boosting fitness and discovering local hospitality.

“With e-biking you can get in a lot of riding, especially at this time of the year,” says Ryan McCord,  Friends of Capitol Forest president. Friends of Capitol Forest is a nonprofit that supports the forest.

Retiree Jay Barney of Tumwater says traditional bike riders should try an e-bike, especially if they want to stay healthy. And spouse Lori Barney, also retired, says e-bikes keep the “older generation” going when otherwise they may be considering giving up biking due to physical or stamina challenges. “We can do longer rides than on a regular bike,” she explains.

E-bikes like this one pictured here have a battery to give riders an energy assist when needed, such as when they are climbing hills or going longer distances. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Ride Capitol State Forest’s North Slope ‘Slick Jimmy’ and ‘Livin’ the Dream’ E-Bike Trails

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages the 110,000-acre forest located southwest of Olympia in the Black Hills. The Friends of Capitol Forest website explains that the North Slope’s directional mountain bike-only trails in the forest are one of the few DNR-managed non-motorized trail systems that allow e-bikes. E-bikes are also authorized on motorized (dirt bike and ATV) Capitol State Forest trails. However, Friends of Capitol Forest explains that “Per DNR policy, e-bikes are not allowed on the non-motorized shared use trails, which includes all the trails in the Fall Creek area, unless you have a disabled placard in your vehicle.”

Trails like ‘Slick Jimmy’ and ‘Livin’ the Dream’ offer e-bike riders options to visit the Capitol State Forest on designated e-bike trails. Photo courtesy: Friends of Capitol Forest

Ryan recommends using the Trailforks North Slope’s e-biking trails map. One newer trail is named “Slick Jimmy.” Ryan says this difficult trail with steep turns is designed for e-bike experts. The trail’s steeper upper half is followed by a clear-cut section and then a less steep and wider lower half. Cam Sloan is one of the volunteers who built that trail. Cam, who is opening Big Stump Bikes in West Olympia in July 2024, says Slick Jimmy descends 1,800 feet. “It was early in the pandemic when we got approval for DNR to install a double black level trail on the North Slope,” he says. “Having a place where you can go to ride e-bikes legally without consequences takes the stress out.”

If you are not yet an e-bike expert, Ryan says embark on the “Livin’ the Dream” trail. It is a wider flow trail with berms that you can jump or just roll over. “ Livin’ the Dream is the most accessible trail,” says Ryan. “If you are a new rider, start on the Livin’ the Dream and see how that goes.”

Alan Paxton, Trek Bicycle Olympia West manager, says the North Slope is popular in Thurston County and the region. The North Slope is about half an hour from Olympia. Take I-5 to Highway 101, head west and exit at Highway 8. Continue for about 10 miles to the new parking lot at the A-Line/A-500 Road.

The Capitol State Forest outside of Olympia offers e-bike trails on the North Slope. Check the trail map to learn more about traversing this spectacular area. Photo courtesy: Friends of Capitol Forest

Riders Use E-Bikes’ ‘Energy Assist’ to Expand Outdoor Fitness Opportunities

E-biking lets you enjoy outdoor bicycling even if you need help with hills or long distances. E-bikes are classified into 1, 2 and 3 depending upon their motor assistance and speed levels. Older riders or those with physical challenges often find the e-bike battery’s energy assistance to supplement pedaling expands their fitness opportunities. Cam says e-bikes let people stay active. “It allows you to put in as much effort as you want and augments your efforts,” he explains.

Jay and Lori began e-biking a couple of years ago while on vacation in France. They bought e-bikes when they returned. Regular bikes had become challenging given Lori’s back and Jay’s hip issues, but e-bikes let them comfortably continue riding. “We love our e-bikes,” says Lori. “Jay and I can do 30 miles, easy.”

“They are so nice,” adds Jay. “They are a really good workout. You can turn the dial to zero and not use the assist, but it’s a comfort knowing it’s there.”

Tumwater retirees Jay and Lori Barney (pictured) encourage bicyclists who may have physical or stamina challenges to try e-bikes, which provide an energy-assist option that gives a boost to pedaling. Photo courtesy: Jay and Lori Barney

West Olympia Hospitality Serves North Slope and Olympia Area E-Bikers

Food and lodging choices abound if you want to explore the Olympia area during your North Slope and local e-bike treks. The Highway 101 exits to West Olympia lead e-bikers to convenient spots to eat, drink and relax. Cam says West Olympia locations are particularly popular with bicyclists, who are frequent patrons of Vic’s Pizzeria and the Headless Mumby Brewing Company. Ryan says the Skep and Skein Tavern is another westside location well-liked by bicyclists. The tavern offers meads, ales and microbrews, and you can bring your own food. Visit this Experience Olympia webpage for more area restaurant and pub choices.

If you are staying overnight during your North Slope e-biking trip, consider the forest’s Fall Creek Campground and Trailhead or Margaret McKenny Campground and Trailhead. If you prefer sleeping on a bed, The Marie Bed & Breakfast on Olympia’s westside, the Swantown Inn (bonus: it rents e-bikes), and other area hotels offer accommodations.


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