Green Mountain State Forest, Washington

I credit Grant Petersen and the Rivendell website for inspiring me to combine two things I enjoy, biking and camping, in the form of a S24O (sub 24-hour overnight). (See this great piece on Rivendell's website on "bike camping vs. touring"). I live in Seattle and one of my favorite bike camping destinations is Green Mountain State Forest. (Download a pdf map of the area from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.)

The trip to Green Mountain from Seattle begins by taking the Seattle-Bremerton ferry from Colman Dock, the crossing takes about an hour. From Bremerton the ride is 11 miles on paved roads and 2 miles on gravel/dirt roads. The roads transition from city to rural quickly as you gradually climb from sea level to about 1200’ at the camp.

Packed for Joeball Mountain 2.0
Pack light, you don’t need much for an overnight.

My Steed
My trusty camping companion, a Surly Long Haul Trucker

Red Apple Supplies
Supplies can be purchased along the way.

The actual camping location is the Green Mountain Horse Camp. The campground is settled amongst fairly dense forest that is more mature than much of the surrounding land, which has been logged more recently. It is free to camp here and there are tent spaces, picnic tables, and fire rings. Backcountry horsemen donate time and materials to maintaining the site so please be respectful of their efforts and pack out anything you packed in. (Check the calendar on the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington's website if you want to avoid any large events). There are pit toilets and there is a hand pump well that is posted as “For Stock Only”, however I have filtered and boiled water from the well before, so drink at your own risk or pack all of the water you need in by bike. I suggest making a loop of the figure-8 that runs through the camp area to see the selection of sites.


There are picnic tables, fire rings, and ample bike parking at the Green Mountain Horse Camp.

Once you have set up camp, you have the option of riding your unloaded bike 2.5 more miles up to the summit of Green Mountain.

Climbing to the vista
Climbing to the vista in Green Mountain State Forest

Green Mountain is one of the tallest points on the central Kitsap Peninsula so the views are uninhibited by terrain for many miles. From the viewpoint you can look east and see Seattle with the Cascades behind or Look west and see views of the Olympic Mountains. It’s well worth the extra climb to the top. If you and your bike are up for some mildly technical single track there is a trail near the viewpoint that takes you back down to the horse camp (as an alternative to the road).

Green Mountain Vista
Looking back from the vista to Seattle.

Back at the camp the tables and fire rings make an accommodating night out. After making dinner, watching the fire die out, and crawling into your sleeping bag, you can fall asleep away from the city lights and noises you left behind a few hours before.

In the morning you get to look forward to descending all of the elevation you climbed the day before and can be back to Seattle well before lunch.

Get more information about bike overnights.

An annotated Google map of the route and viewpoint

View Green Mountain S24O in a larger map

23 responses so far ↓

Amanda - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Nice one, Andre! This was fantastic last year, I can't wait for this year's bike camping.

Chase - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Andre speaks the truth. This is an awesome S24O trip. Wish I was out there for this year's trip!

josh - Apr 20, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Thanks for the write up, Andre. I'm going to give this trip a try sometime this spring or early summer. Looks like a great spot to take a small group of folks who don't have much/any bike camping experience.

L.C. - Apr 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Sounds like a great little trip!! I'd be eager to hear any other suggestions you have, as I'm new to Seattle and excited to do some weekend bike-camping trips. Anybody got good overnight routes for Whidbey or San Juans?

Mike M. - May 2, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Thanks for posting this - looks like a great trip.

@LC: I picked up a small spiral-bound book at a sporting goods store in Pt. Townsend a couple of years ago called 'Around Puget Sound by Ferry Boat and Bicycle by Alonda and Jim Droege, published by Globe Publishers in Saginaw, TX. Might be just what you need if you can find it.

Justin - Aug 1, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I did this trip during the July 4 weekend. The camp was nice, the hosts were really friendly, and the ride was just strenuous enough to feel like we made an effort. Next time I think I will use the same road into the campground that the horse trailers use. It is still gravel, and possibly longer, but not as steep. I was on skinny tires towing a trailer, and the gravel was just too much for me. I ended up pushing my bike up a couple hills.

I was able to find the book 'Around Puget Sound' on Amazon for pretty cheap. It has some good ideas that I hope to try while the summer lasts.

Karen - Apr 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Thanks for this post! I've been looking for camping areas to go biking near Seattle. :)

Jude - Jun 29, 2012 at 11:27 PM

Great entry and thanks for the advice. The Rivendell URL looks like it's changed for the article you cited. It's now: http://www.rivbike.com/Articles.asp?ID=245

Jude - Jul 1, 2012 at 10:30 PM

If you want to add some more miles, I added onto your map with a longer Southern route home, which is hillier, somewhat scenic and gets you back to the mainland via the Southworth ferry. Like the Bremerton Ferry, the ferry is free for return from here on a bike. The route is about 35 miles. Enjoy! https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=204284943787022990504.0004c3d1a6aee494e8eba&msa=0&ll=47.555214,-122.652054&spn=0.154545,0.431213

Michael McCoy - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Thanks for the link tip, Jude, and for the further route suggestion.

Andre - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Hi Jude, I'm glad this information was useful. I don't have admin privileges to update the post with the revised Rivendell link but thanks for providing that in the comments.

Michael McCoy - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Guys, the Rivendell link has been fixed. Thanks again.

Carry Porter - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Andre: My husband and I were so inspired by your story we took off after work on a Friday this summer for Green Mountain. We rolled into the campground at dusk on Friday the 13th with a lightning storm in full swing and found the place deserted! (I guess horses and lightning don't get along.) It was spooky to say the least! We had a lovely night's rest, hiked to the top of Green Mountain the next day and had a wonderful ride back to the ferry on a different set of roads. Fantastic! Thank you so much for contributing to bikeovernights and providing the inspiration for a memorable trip!

Michael McCoy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Very cool, Carry. We like it when one of our most inspirational rider-writers gets inspired herself!

Andre - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Carry,

I'm glad you and your husband were inspired enough to make the trip up to Green Mountain. I agree that the forest and campground can seem almost eerie if there are not others around but that's also an exciting perk about the location, no crowds.

I think it's been almost 2 years since I have been up there. I hope to return soon.

Larry Short - Apr 7, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Hello! I plan to take a group of cyclists/campers (from the Puyallup area) up to Green Mountain on Saturday, May 18, for one night. It doesn't look like there are any competing events that night. I just wanted to give you all a heads up. Thanks for the great tip, we are looking forward to it!

Michael McCoy - Apr 10, 2013 at 8:41 AM

That sounds great, Larry. Let us know how it goes!

Rusty - Aug 24, 2013 at 11:55 AM

I was disappointed in this trip. Terrible traffic with no shoulder for most of it, impassable gravel hill climbs on unmarked dirt roads, and no signage for the camp...which I was unable to find! I even asked local horse riders hiking in the area and they didn't know where it was! I ended up finally just turning around for the dangerous descent and headed back to Seattle. A wasted day. Two thumbs down for this ride!

Larry Short - Aug 25, 2013 at 2:37 AM

Thanks Michael! We did this trip in July. Three of us cycled from Port Orchard, and the remainder drove up in a support vehicle. It was quite warm and the ride itself was a little more rigorous than I expected, but we were rewarded by a lovely stay once we achieved the camp.

And of course the ride back, the next day (mostly downhill), was exhilarating. Even though we were saddle-sore from the long climb up the day before!

Andre - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Rusty-I'm sorry you were unable to find the camp. Your comment about the lack of signage in the Green Mountain Forest is correct. This highlights the need to have the proper navigation tools with you when you set out. The network of roads provide no less than three options for reaching the camp and a GPS or smartphone app would be useful for a first timer. No matter which route I take in I get a good sweat going, the 1200' price has to be paid no matter what but the destination is worth it and I hope you'll make it back.

Larry- I'm glad you and your group made it up to the camp and were able to enjoy what it had to offer. I went up with a group of friends in April this year and had another great time. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7443/8726343216_be94081a0d_z.jpg

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7311/8725225209_f37369b900_z.jpg

Rusty - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Andre, I have every intention of going back, with the intention of not being "beaten" by a ride. This time I will park at the trailhead (Bremerton is no town to cycle through, it's ugly and has really bad aggressive drivers,) I will take my fatbike loaded for bike packing (taking a loaded touring bike up those roads is simply ridiculous, it's more of a mountain bike ride,) and certainly bring better navigation because it is really confusing up there and the ride description made it sound super easy.
I would amend your description of the ride with a clearer depiction of what people are going to actually experience once they get up there.

Andre - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Rusty-I updated the Google Map (http://goo.gl/maps/GiEqp) to show two optional approaches from the Wildcat Lake area. Red is more steep and direct, while Yellow is longer but less steep. As people continue to post their experiences with this destination and their variations on routes it provides more information for new riders to consider. Thanks for providing your feedback.

Rusty - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:46 AM

Thanks for the updates, Andre.

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