If you haven’t been to visit L. L. Stub Stewart State Park in the last few years, you should make plans to do so this spring or summer.
Since its grand opening in 2007 Stub Stewart State Park has seen many changes and the addition of many services and recreational attractions. The park is a great place to go spend a few hours, a day, a weekend or longer; there is plenty to do in this jewel in our corner of Oregon.
I recently spent an afternoon touring the park with two park rangers, Steve Kruger and Jamie Mckinney-Fousek, who showed me some of the improvements that have happened at the park over the last several years.
Mountain Bike Trails
Kruger and I first headed out to the Mountain Bike area that is being built by volunteers. The entrance to the area has a kiosk which explains the risk and skill levels on the trails. The easiest level is a cross country trail, a single track which is being built by the Northwest Trail Alliance (NTA). From there we headed to the base of the free ride area where we took a look at the construction on the extensions of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails that are in development. At the top of the free ride area, Kruger talked about the skill filters at the start of the trails. Kruger explained that the skill filter on the intermediate line is a no bypass, technical trail feature, which allows a rider to gauge their comfort level for the types of features a rider will encounter on the trail. “These trails are like level five in a video game,” explains Kruger. “The Banks-Vernonia Linear Trail is super easy, for kids and families, and is like level one. As you get into the park the multi-use trails and skill levels get harder with the soft surface. Then you can enter into the cross country trail which is more advanced and mountain bike specific and that is like level three and four. That final level is the free ride area. You don’t just jump to level five right away, you build your skill level.”
The mountain bike trails are built away from the day use areas and are somewhat difficult to locate. “You have to be looking for this area, visitors won’t just stumble upon it,” says Kruger. The free ride area is being developed by the Westside Trail Federation (WTF). Parts of the area are still under construction and new trail is continually being developed, but numerous trails are open and ready to be ridden and have some very large jumps, twists and turns, one large wall and numerous technical trail features.
Kruger explained that the Park has a working agreement with both NTA and WTF to design, build and maintain the mountain bike trails. According to Kruger NTA has added a trails patrol program to provide assistance for users with trail etiquette and safety.
If careening down a single track trail on a mountain bike isn’t your idea of a good time Stub Stewart has thirty miles of mixed use trails for hiking. Originally many of the trails were constructed on old logging roads and went straight up and down the numerous hills throughout the park. Since then many of the trails have been rerouted to include switch backs, climbing turns and other improvements. The park has an excellent trail system that will allow any visitor a chance to explore and enjoy the solitude of nature.
Next we took a look at the eighteen hole disc golf course that has been installed at the park. Disc golf is a causal sport that is quickly growing in popularity. The front nine baskets at Stub Stewart are well established and have two placement options, a professional and amateur location; the back nine are in and playable but that area still needs quite a bit of work according to Kruger. “We are working on some terraced greens with retaining walls to create a nice flat and stable surface.”
In addition the park has added a three hole mini course between the two campground loops that acts as a practice course for children and a warm up area for adults to test their skills. It also provides close entertainment for those using the camping facilities.
A new feature that has just been added to the park is a supply center located at Registration Station at the Visitors Center, where you can purchase discs from a huge variety they have in stock, including mini driver and marker discs, a three disc set for $29 and individual drivers, putters, and mid-range discs from several different manufactures in several price ranges. They even have glow in the dark discs for night time play. They also have a disc bags and drying towel for sale.
Bike and Boot Wash Station
Need to clean up before heading home after a day on the trail? Stub Stewart has a newly installed Bike and Boot Wash Station to clean…well, your bike or your boots, located at the Hill Top Day Use Area. Besides giving visitors a place to get the mud off of their equipment, the Wash Station can help alleviate the spread of invasive species by washing away anything you may have picked up during your visit to the park. It can also be used before you head into the park to keep invasive species out. The Wash Station was installed with a grant from the Salmon Plate Funds which help with environmental concerns throughout the state.
In addition to the large variety of disc golf supplies available for purchase, the new Supply Center located at the visitor center has many other items available that a visitor to Stub Stewart might need, and all at really reasonable prices. Ranger Mckinney-Fousek told us that they carry visors, stainless steel water bottles, retractable walking sticks with a built in compass, Fireflies which light up when kids put them on their bike wheels and ride, bike helmets in all sizes for just $10, and fire starters, with more items to come. So, if you find yourself all set up in camp and realize you forgot something important, try the Supply Center they just might have what you are looking for.
Off Leash Dog Area
Stub Stewart recently installed a fenced off-leash area for dogs to run and play. It has a double gate, five foot high fence, waste bags, a great view and benches where you can sit while your dog runs. Dogs are allowed in the park but need to be on leash, so this is a great addition for visitors who want to take their best friends with them.
Hill Top Day Use Area
The pavilion at the Hill Top Day Use Area is available for rental for parties, weddings, family reunions and more.
Monthly astronomy programs are also held at Hill Top, sponsored by OMSI. It is a great place for stargazing anytime, as well as the organized programs the park provides.
State Parks Day is June 1st and Stub Stewart Park will have all kinds of activities taking place at the Hill Top Day Use Area including a free lunch, vendors, interpretive programs and more.
Stub Stewart Park has two meeting halls available for rental for meetings, weddings, family reunions and parties. The meeting hall in Dairy Creek West Camping Loop has table and chairs for fifty people, a pull down screen, two BBQs and a fire pit, a wood stove inside, a counter and a sink, and is available May 1-September 30 with rental of a minimum of 5 campsites, available Oct. 1-April 30 without campsite rental. Cost is $75. It is available for one-night free rental with club camping in the park. The meeting hall in the Mountain Dale Cabin Village has all the same amenities except it has a full kitchen with rest rooms. It is available May 1-September 30 with rental of 5 sites, at least 2 must be cabins. Available Oct. 1-April 30 without campsite rental. Rental cost is $200. It is not available for one-night free rental with club camping.
Other Park Amenities
The Camping loops at Stub Stewart sure look different from when they first opened in 2007. According to Ranger Mckinney-Fousek the trees and shrubs are growing up and filling out quite nicely. A play structure has also been installed in one loop. The sites are large and spacious and provide a great place for the whole family to relax, play and more.
The Horse Camp offer thirteen full hook-up sites with four stall corrals and two double sites with six stall corrals. The Cabin Village offers fifteen cabins as an alternative to RV or tent camping and makes a nice weekend getaway with spectacular views. One cabin is pet friendly. The hike-in camping area gives tent campers a place to get away from the RV’s and is set in a beautiful grove of tall trees.
The park features interpretive programs during the summer months, with ranger led hikes, programs for children and more.
Make a visit to Stub Stewart State Park part of your summer plans this year. You just might be surprised by what you find.