By: Dave Helgeson
Places to Ride: Tahuya State Forest, Washington
Clear cut logging area
Deep in the forest
Anyone who rides an ATV in Western Washington
has ridden or at least heard about Tahuya State
Near Belfair, Washington, Tahuya State Forest is
the premier riding area for off-road vehicles of
all types. What makes Tahuya so popular?
- It is one of
the few areas in Western Washington with
dedicated ATV trails.
- The area is
open year around.
- It is less than
80 miles from Seattle, the largest city in the
State of Washington, and 50 miles from Tacoma,
the second largest city in the State of
- It is very near
sea level which means moderate winter
temperatures and no snow.
- The area
consists of glacial till which means very little
mud and firm bottoms to the numerous winter
In addition to the logistical reasons listed
above are the awesome, well-signed trails that
allow numerous loop opportunities through the
forest. Short loops of a few miles are available
for mom and the kids. Those that want to spend
some serious time on the trail can spend a good
portion of their day on the Overland Trail which
takes you far from the staging areas, but still
offers a loop opportunity. Those that just want
to play or watch their kids play, can visit the
Sand Hill Gravel Pit (a small semi- abandoned
gravel pit) which has a user-made track and
various spur trails in and through the trees.
Designated 4x4 trails are also open to ATV use.
Tahuya State Forest consists of around 2,000
acres of riding area on forested state land.
Some trails are occasionally closed as the
portions of the forest are periodically logged
to provide state funding for schools. There is
very little change in elevation over the area,
so if hill climbing is your passion, Tahuya is
not for you.
There are several day-use staging areas to ride
- Elfendahl Pass Staging Area (Camping also
- Mission Creek Staging Area
Hill Gravel Pit
A map of the riding area can be viewed at:
When you tire of riding, grab your fishing gear
and ride over to Howell Lake. A nice loop trail
passes by the lake.
There are four designated camping areas at
Tahuya State Forest. They are:
- Elfendahl Staging area
- Tahuya River Horse Camp*
- Kamenga Campground*
- Camp Spillman*
They have pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire
You can ride your ATV in and out of the
Limit your stay to 7 days
*These are group campgrounds that require
advance reservations with the exception of the
following holiday weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth
of July, and Labor Day. On holiday weekends
spaces are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To make reservations, send an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-802-7070,
Ext. 2400. When making a reservation please
include your name, e-mail address, group size,
requested dates, campground name, and site
Nearby Belfair State Park offers showers and
full hook up RV spaces. However, you cannot
access the trail system from the state park, and
you may not operate your ATV in the park.
Do you like mud?
Rules and Regulations:
ATVs must be titled and registered, with owners
receiving an Off-Road Vehicle use permit and ORV
tag to place on their ATV.
- Motorized use after dark is not permitted.
one under age 13 may operate an ATV on or across
a highway or road except on a road designated
for off-highway vehicle use under direct
supervision of a person at least 18 who has a
overnight camping is allowed at the Sand Hill
Gravel Pit or any other undesignated site.
Spark arrester is required.
- Campfires in designated DNR fire pits only
on designated trails
From Belfair head west on NE North Shore Road
(Hwy 300). To reach the Sand Hill Gravel Pit
turn right on NE Sand Hill Road and follow it up
the hill to the pit on the left. For more
centralized staging, continue straight on NE
North Shore Road (Hwy 300) past Belfair State
Park. Then turn right on Belfair Tahuya Road
heading up a fairly steep hill. When you reach
the top of the hill the Mission Creek staging
area will be on your right. To reach Elfendahl
Pass Staging Area and the campgrounds, continue
straight to NE Elfendahl Pass Road. Take a right
on Elfendahl Road and continue a couple miles to
the Elfendahl Pass Staging Area which will be on
your right. Elfendahl is a great place for a
first visit to get you familiarized with the
area. It is centrally located and offers many
loop options to explore. The campgrounds are
nearby; consult the map for locations.
Fuel, groceries, restaurants ,and lodging are
available in nearby Belfair. The nearest ATV
shops are in Bremerton.
For more information visit:
Washington State DNR (Dept. of Natural
PO Box 47000
1111 Washington Street SE
Olympia, WA 98504-7000
Be safe, enjoy, and I hope to see you on the