5 Great Places for ATV Off-Roading in Washington State
Getting outdoors into nature means different things for different people. Some are drawn to our forests and natural areas for the silence and tranquility, while others seek thrills and high-speed excitement. Forest trails and rugged terrain are a vast playground for outdoor enthusiasts who love their motorized vehicles. Thankfully there’s enough forest for everyone here in Washington state, with plenty of space for hikers and mountain bikers, equestrians and wildlife watchers, and designated areas for all varieties of off-road vehicles and all-terrain toys.
Ahtanum State Forest
This Yakima wilderness area has over 75,000 acres of beauty with ponderosa pine forests, lakes, and miles of off-roading trails. Most trails are plenty wide for the beginner, and the trail system has plenty of direct trail access to a variety of camping areas. While you’re there, take a break and check out Eagle Nest Vista, a popular overlook that gives dramatic views of the North Fork Ahtanum drainage, Dome Peak, and the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area. In the winter many of the trails are groomed for snowmobiling such as the Ahtanum Winter Recreation Area which has 67 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Check out nearby BBQ Flats with its open pine forest and flat forest floor where dispersed camping, hiking, mountain biking, and ORV riding is allowed. Find information and updates at www.dnr.wa.gov/Ahtanum/.
Cle Elum Ranger District
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest gets 200 days of sunshine with little rain but lots of snow which provides year-round recreation amid spring flowers, sunsets over alpine lakes, brilliant autumn leaves, and winter snowflakes. The Cle Elum Ranger District stretches east from the Cascades to the prairies and sage steppe of Central Washington near Ellensburg, and north to the Wenatchee Mountains. The district has over a dozen campgrounds and 400 miles of trails open for motorized use. From craggy peaks, to rolling hills, dense forests of Douglas fir and western hemlock in the west, open pine forests in the east, meadows and secluded valleys, the district has diverse terrain for a wide range of fun! Check out the beginner-friendly ATV loop at Manastach Campground for anyone in your group just starting out. Find information and updates at www.fs.usda.gov/okawen/.
Capitol State Forest
Beautiful waterfalls, leaping salmon, and 150 miles of trails are all just a short drive from Olympia in the Capitol State Forest. The northern section of the state forest is open to motorists and the southern part is designated for non-motorists like hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians so there’s a place for visitors with all recreation interests here. The forest’s 89 miles of motorized trails are accessible through the Middle Waddell campground which is a great place to rest your head overnight. The Porter Creek Campground is a popular area for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Rock Candy Trail ascends to an open summit with views of the Olympia Mountains and the Puget Sound. Find information and updates at www.dnr.wa.gov/capitol/.
Evans Creek ORV Area
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a popular outdoor destination with glacier peaks, meadows, lakes, rivers, and old growth forests spanning 140 miles of the west side of the Cascade Mountains between Mt. Rainier National Park and the Canadian border. Evans Creek is a campground and ORV Area with more than 40 miles of designated off-roading trails looping through forests, up and down mountains and meadows. The trails range from easy, smooth sections to more challenging 4×4 trails of varying difficulty through rugged terrain. Visitors can find campsites and picnic areas. Scenic overlooks in this forest give stunning views of Rainier. Find information and updates at www.fs.usda.gov/mbs/.
Yacolt Burn State Forest
The Yacolt Burn State Forest is a 90,000-acre timber-generating forest in the Cascade Mountains of Southwest Washington with many opportunities for off-road thrill-seeking fun.
Just outside of Cathlamet, the Bradley ORV Area attracts off-roaders from across the state and Oregon because of its extensive trail system. Visitors can find overnight camping and RV sites at the nearby Elochoman Slough Marina. The Jones Creek ORV Trailhead has 14 miles of double-track motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle trails which draws more than 15,000 visitors each year. From the Jones Creek Trailhead visitors can access other ORV trail systems including Deer Pen Trail, Mountain View Trail, and the Hagen Creek Trail which features a rock crawl. Find information and updates at www.dnr.wa.gov/Yacolt.