Capitol Forest is more than 90,000 acres of forest land in the Black Hills that is managed by the Washington State Department of
Natural Resources. Capitol Forest is a working forest that responsibly balances recreation interests and tree harvesting to help fund
state schools, universities, road construction and  libraries.       

Capitol Forest is a place for a wide variety of recreation opportunities. Open to the public since 1955, mountain bikers, campers,
hikers, hunters, horse back riders, and motorcycle riders all recreate here. More than 800,000 people visit the forest each year. To
prevent conflicts between motorized and non motorized recreation Capitol Forest is divided into two parts. Motorized recreation in
the northern half and non motorized in the southern half, with trails open from April 1 through October 31 and closed for the winter.
Mountain bikes and hikers are allowed access to both halves of the forest year round. Trail closures during the winter months help to
protect forest soils and streams.
1975 DNR Trail Map Photos
Images donated by Cathy Cooper
HISTORY

1870
First timber claims in what would become Capitol Forest.

1880
A Utopian society from Brooklyn, New York takes up residence in the forest. Most of the members do not
last past the first winter.

1880-1890's
Start of logging in the forests of the Black Hills.

1889
Washington becomes the 42nd state, and Congress grants it 5,000 acres in the area that would become
Capitol Forest.

1898
Start of logging camp that would become the town of Bordeaux.

1902
Devastating forest fires.

1906-1940
The forest is harvested by railroad logging companies. More than 80 percent of the forest is logged; some
major forest fires burn and re burn over part of the Black Hills. Over 100 miles of railroads were built
through out the Black Hills. Many rail beds later became trails and roads that are still used today.

1920-1930's
Logging town of Bordeaux, in what is now Capitol Forest has a population of 300-500.

1933
With support from foresters, the Legislature acts to assure the long-term timber supply, and starts what
would become Capitol State Forest by authorizing:

Purchase of 52,000 acres of logged, burned-over land for 50 cents per acre.

Transfer of suitable, tax-defaulted lands from the counties to the state Forest Board, to be managed
FOREVER as commercial forest. 14,000 acres are eventually transferred.

1941
Bordeaux becomes a ghost town.

1938-1942
Civilian Conservation Corps plants 7 million seedlings in Capitol Forest from Wedekind Planting Camp. The
public is kept out of Capitol Forest to prevent devastating wildfires.

1955
Capitol Forest opens for public recreation and other uses, provided they do not conflict with meeting the
needs of the resources and the trusts.

1956
Cedar Creek Corrections Camp is created. Inmates help in forest management, planting thinning, fighting
forest fires and trail maintenance.      

1957
Forest management continues under the newly created Department of Natural resources.

1960
First commercial thinning of forest to promote a healthier forest.

1970
15,000 acres added to the forest.

1980
Capitol Forest becomes the first block of state land in Washington to have its own sustainable harvest
described and regulated under a forest plan.

1989
10,000 acres added to the forest.

1996
Since 1980 forest timber has increased 1 billion board feet.

1997-1999
Scientific studies of ecological relationships, harvest patterns, aesthetics, economics, and forest stand
growth are begun in the forest. Information from the studies will help DNR develop a new plan to manage
Capitol Forest.

2000
DNR maps historic sites in Capitol Forest to protect remnants of its heritage.  
CAPITOL FOREST...the Forest that Came Back (122mb)

1975 DNR Published Capitol Forest History File Donated by Dale Van Kirk
Capitol Forest History
Photo by Derek Pearson