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View Full Version : Stub Stewart State Park is NOT Bike Friendly


Cruizer
08-10-2007, 07:09 PM
I went to the recently opened Stub Stewart State Park in Washington County, off Highway 47 on the way to Vernonia, to try the bike paths and was very disappointed. I'm wondering if anyone involved in setting up the trail system actually rides bikes. First off, the only place they allow you to park your car (Please don't shoot me for using a car to get there!) while you use the trails is at Hilltop Day Use area, which is at about the highest point in the park. Any trail you take from there starts out down hill, steeply downhill. The surfaces of the trails vary from a deep layer of loose, jagged rocks that defy traction -- you can't even turn on the level in this stuff, to deep dust (also no traction) and corduroy hard dirt (headache time). Two connecting trails to where I wanted to go were closed, so I had to abort that plan. Of course, the closed trails will eventually be open but I wonder what plans they have for giving the trails a more usable surface.

The Banks/Vernonia Trail runs through the entire length of the park and the logical place to park to access that is at the welcome center, which they won't allow you to do with a day use pass. Instead, they insist that you park 1.5 mile up a steep, granny gear hill! Sure that's fun to come down, but I make it a point not to conclude my day's ride with a climb like that.

The very worst aspect of the park, though, is that the camping facilites cater to RV campers! There are currently 43 RV campsites, 12 walk-in tentsites (in a large open circle with absolutely no privacy) and 23 hike-in tentsites in a separate area. A third camping area is in development and that will consist entirely of 40 RV sites. What are they thinking? Why is the state catering to RVs? I'm wondering whom to ask about the possibility of making the final camping area for car campers. Of course, the case can be made that car campers can camp in RV sites but they have to pay extra for amenities they aren't using and it's not a kick to pitch your tent on a huge gravel parking lot. I read that a main purpose of this park was to encourage metro area people to get out and enjoy nature. The majority of people new to camping probably aren't going to rent an RV to sample the experience.

wrinkles
08-10-2007, 09:55 PM
Thanks for the report. This is bad news, indeed. I had high hopes for this park. I do hope you will pass along your observations to someone in the OS Parks Dept. who might have some clout.
I'm not sure what kind of politics is being played in the Parks. Dept. The Guv has promised to build some brand new campgrounds during his tenure, ergo Stub Stewart, which, sadly, sounds like just another RV haven. Another is slated to be carved out of woods on a branch of the Nehalem R. east of Manzanita. The locals are fighting that one for the damage it may do to the fish. Meanwhile, many existing parks limp along with insufficient staff and funding.
What gives?:confused:

wsbob
08-11-2007, 12:54 PM
That's a good report, Cruizer. It sounds as though the parks dept needs to take a look at their demographics. 83 RV sites and only 35 tent sites. Do they really find that the majority of overnight visitors to parks are RV users rather than tent users?

I'm just gradually hearing about Stubb Stewart park(related to the logger, now bought off, but who was charging through the park with his chainsaw). I hadn't heard about bike trails there yet, but it's a sure thing, if there is much opportunity for it in this park, many, many people would want to do so rather than sit around on a lawn chair in front of the RV.

Simple Nature
08-11-2007, 03:49 PM
My better half and I went through the park just to see what the fuss was about. It was a total shock at what the Oregon Parks Department considers camping these days. It is more like a wagon train circle for RV'rs. Seems there will be cabins to rent as well. I suppose you have to get away from your campground to really see the "nature" part of the park.

We didn't go and look for any of the trails (it was that bad!) but there is the bike trail up to Vernonia. Don't know what that is like but if it's part gravel and steep climbs, I doubt my recumbent trike will ever make it to Vernonia. I did notice a bunch of "Bicycle on Roadway" signs along hwy 47 though. Not a good sign for a highway in my book. There is just way to many people commuting from Vernonia to the metropolis of which way to many are either half asleep or drunk.

Jeff Wills
08-12-2007, 09:44 PM
We didn't go and look for any of the trails (it was that bad!) but there is the bike trail up to Vernonia. Don't know what that is like but if it's part gravel and steep climbs, I doubt my recumbent trike will ever make it to Vernonia. I did notice a bunch of "Bicycle on Roadway" signs along hwy 47 though. Not a good sign for a highway in my book. There is just way to many people commuting from Vernonia to the metropolis of which way to many are either half asleep or drunk.

Simple- one of the OHPV riders rode the Banks/Vernonia trail recently and says the route is much improved. They're still working on paving a couple trestles on the way up from Banks, but that should be done by next summer.

The trail is currently paved for several miles (3 or 4 at least) south and west of Vernonia. We usually use it on our annual Labor Day weekend ride from Timber Junction around to Elsie.

Jeff

Simple Nature
08-12-2007, 11:10 PM
That's good news, Jeff... I look forward to hearing more about this trail.

lynnef
08-13-2007, 09:59 AM
I've ridden the trail a couple of times, end to end. At the Manning trailhead off Hwy 26, you ride along a washboard dirt/gravel road for maybe a mile before getting onto the trail.

The trail is then paved, until the Buxton trestle. Downhill and uphill, certainly doable on both an MTB and road bike (I know; I've done it). The trail is then gravel/dirt for quite a ways. Descending Tophill is a kick. Going up the other side (towards Vernonia) - well, I always walk my bike. My friend Jeff M can ride his up that grade, but he's very special. :-) Then more dirt and gravel, then paved into Vernonia.

Past Buxton, you'd probably want agressive tires. When they were constructing Stub Stewart, the section of trail in that area was a sucking mudpit, and challenging to ride through. It should be better now.

fetishridr
08-13-2007, 09:20 PM
most trails are laid, then ridden on and weathered to settle in. they actually require people to ride them when they are loose. that is how 100% of mt bike trails are constructed. they require faith because they suck to ride on before they settle.

you complain of RV campsites, but bitch about steep bike paths? the world is not just a paved parking lot. Although the new park is an RV lot, dont complain about horrible trails not being smooth and flat enough. thats probably what the original RVer said to the stateparks person who then went and created a multitude of sucky paved patches of oregon.

i havent been there yet, but i hope to see some actual single track mt bike trails, narrow, rolling, technical, and muddy. i highly doubt it will happen however.

bikes require some man made alteration to enable a wheel to roll over the earth and through the forest. keep that in mind, and keep riding the trails out there. that last thing we need is another great path paved over to accommodate the "masses".

Cruizer
08-29-2007, 12:03 PM
I had an encouraging phone conversation this morning with Chris Havel, from the State Parks Director's office, about the underwhelming number of tent camping sites at Stub Stewart State Park. He says it's too late to change the new camping loop from being RV-oriented because the electricity and plumbing are already in and all that needs to be done is the vegetation. But he said more tent camping areas are planned.

Chris stated that they welcome users' observations and suggestions and will consider them in fine-tuning the facilities. He was especially concerned when I pointed out that there are only two parking spots for people who want to use the 23 hike-in primitive campsites. I have a feeling they can pretty easily designate a few more parking spots for this area.

He also agreed with me that requiring people who want to explore the Vernonia Trail to park 2 1/2 miles up the mountain is impractical. This may be a bit harder to adjust, however, as the Welcome Center parking lot needs to maintain a generous amount of open space for the RV campers to maneuver their rigs while they stop in to register for camping.

All in all, I was very encouraged that he took the time to call me back twice (after I'd left a message on his voice mail) and patiently listen to my concerns. I believe he will bring my observations to the attention of the planners, especially since he said he's heard similar complaints/observations/suggestions from others. It pays to make your voice heard! He also said to watch the State Parks Web site

http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/

for periodic surveys that they will post asking for user input.

We didn't talk that much about the bike trails because my main concern was my fear that people of modest means were being shut out of enjoying camping in this beautiful new state park so close to home. He did say that the deep layer of rock I was having trouble riding in is called "base rock" in road-building terminology. I don't know what they're going to do about that, but I expect they will get lots of complaints as more people try to use it.

So if you're interested, visit Stub Stewart Park yourself and then watch the Web site for the survey so you can give your input in the continued development of this park :)

wrinkles
08-29-2007, 02:46 PM
Thanks, Cruizer, for that promising follow-up. Maybe I'll try camping and biking at Stub after all.
FYI, all, I have read that all the many trails there are intended for the common use by pedestrians, bikes AND horses. So, be careful where you plant that wheel :-)

bikerinNE
08-29-2007, 08:33 PM
I wouldn't worry about the single track trails, the more people use them, the better they will become, as long as people respect the trails. Take nothing, and leave only foot prints and tire tracks.

bikieboy
08-30-2007, 08:44 AM
thanks, Cruizer, for letting the Parks people know about the bicycle-related concerns. I would offer a mild quibble, tho:

[QUOTE=Cruizer;6129] I pointed out that there are only two parking spots for people who want to use the 23 hike-in primitive campsites. I have a feeling they can pretty easily designate a few more parking spots for this area.[QUOTE]

One of my favorite features of State Parks along the coast is the availability of hiker/biker camps -- you can roll up on a Saturday evening in August, and find a spot, precisely because there's NO parking allowed. So, I'd be a little concerned about making too much parking available. People who arrive by bike or foot should be certain of having a place to camp.