McLane Creek Nature Trail at Capitol State Forest is more than just a great hiking trail. In fact, it’s two hiking trails: McLane Creek NT and Centennial Demonstration Forest, both nicely tucked into the same property. While the .75-mile-long Centennial DF traverses some pretty country, including a working demonstration forest, most people visit to hike the nature trail and to watch for wildlife at the beaver pond encircled by the McLane Creek trail. If you have kids, McLane Creek NT’s many boardwalks, bridges, and viewing areas should keep them entertained, engaged, and (hopefully) excited about the outdoors.
Douglas Scott of Thurston Talk recently posted this article on hiking in Capitol State Forest. He does a great job of summing up all that Capitol SF and the surrounding area has to offer – from Mima Falls and Capitol Peak to the McLane Creek Nature Trail and Margaret McKenny Trail.
If you think you might like to explore Capitol SF, check out some of my trail reviews of the forest:
Fall Creek to Margaret McKenny Camp by Way of Lost Valley
Little Larch Mountain
Also, if you’re interested in exploring just a little farther away from the Olympia area, I recently posted about my trip to the Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail near Shelton.
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= While the entire route is approximately 12 miles, the trails themselves don’t gain or lose much elevation. If you can hike 10 miles, then you can hike this. The route does get a little wet in spots, especially on the upper part of the Lost Valley trail and down near the Mima Falls area.
= Little Larch isn’t a difficult climb so it would rank closer to two boots than four. However, the trail does rise somewhat steeply towards the middle and end. Furthermore, you’ll want to walk around some of the steep mountain bike jumps and definitely visit during less-popular times to avoid the biking crowd (see When to Go). Otherwise the hike is good for active families – just keep a watch out for bikers.