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L. L. Stub Stewart State Park | Oregon

L. L. Stub Stewart State Park | Oregon

Just 31 miles west of Portland, L. L. Stub Stewart State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking and biking. If you like trails, this is the park for you. Explore more than 20 miles of trails. Bring your horse or bicycle and spend hours exploring the far reaches of the park. A quiet spot to yourself? Relaxing is easy in the 1,673 acres of lush rolling hills, forest and deep canyons. Here's some of our photos from a recent trip for my birthday!

Dogs. Yes. On leash, but...one of the largest off leash areas of any state park with views of the coast range that are simply uneatable.

Camping. Quadruple yes.
• Car camping (better in loop "Dairy Creek Camp West").
• Hike in camping sites are amazingly secluded and away from the car campers. The hike is a graded road and there are carts you can borrow to help you transport your things. A group fire ring is used for all hike in campers.
• RV camping with horses? Hares Canyon Horse Camp is your destination there.
• Camp in a cabin? Yes. The Mountain Dale Cabin Village sits on the hilltop with some amazing views.

Bikes. Oh boy, yes. Bikes are everywhere in the park, and that's because Stubb Stewart sits at the 10 mile mark of one of the most scenic bike trails in the area; the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. This, I'm convinced, is a huge reason people like this park. A never-too-hard ten mile ride and you're in the quaint town of Vernonia, grabbing a pastry or microbrew before your head back. Easily done in a day by most.

Hikes. Indeed. The Hilltop Day-use Area with its views of the Coast Range is perfect for a family gathering. Two trailheads, one at the north end and the other to the south, are gateways to hours of exploring. Get a trail guide here.

Golf. Not really, but Yes! An 18-hole disc golf course is open east of the Hilltop Day-use Area, near the Hooktender Horseshoe Trail. Bring your own discs and score cards. Campers also can play a 3-hole course near the campground amphitheater.

Wildflowers. Where we were there in late June, there were 3 colors of foxglove and at least 3 colors of lupine everywhere.

Did you know the phrase "Happy Camper" originated in Oregon? Well, that's what we've heard...I guess that's why it's one of our favorites!

 

Free Tees!

Free Tees!
"I set up a 10 foot table and arrange the tees by style and size. People line up, and wait patiently to select their tee. Some of these people haven't had a new item of clothing in their possession for years. To have a clean, new tee with tags on it...unheard of. Tears roll down their faces as they realize what I'm doing...and in turn, I end up teary all day as I am filled with their joy and gratitude".

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Belknap Hot Springs

Belknap Hot Springs

We recently took a weekend birthday trip to Belknap Hot Springs. We usually like to camp, but we had already winterized our little trailer, so we got a lodge room and brought our little 4-footed friend, Rogen along for the ride.

ACCOMODATIONS
The reviews on the lodge and service were not so great, so we arrived with somewhat low expectations. When we pulled up, we saw huge timber beams at the front of the lodge and wood carvings of bears on the benches outside, where people were taking selfies. People were having fun, so thumbs up already. We checked in, with great, friendly service (contrary to reviews), and headed to the room. The room had a lot of potential with a huge stone fireplace on the back wall. It was not wood burning, but instead filled with a small electric heater. Its cord couldn't reach any outlets though. The bed was comfy, and the bathroom was doable, but if you're a clean-freak, like me, you'll find things to activate your OCD. It's no Hilton, just be warned. It's a spa lodge room straight from the 80's.

Because there is also a campground here, and there's not really any food close-by, we will surely opt to camp here next time (oh yes, we're going back). Bringing our own food and accommodations. The campground was fantastic looking, with some great sites. It is perched up on a hill behind the lodge and also houses many cabins (that seem to have better reviews). The upper tier has another, smaller hot pool, access to the McKenzie River trail, fields for play and a Japanese garden to explore. It would have been the perfect trip if we had the trailer. That said, it was still pretty magical. Read on.

GROUNDS
This place is beyond-words beautiful. The grounds are so expansive and there are so many trails that it's really easy to get lost, even within the campground. We crossed the bridge to explore some of these upon arrival. We came across many hike-in campsites that were so secluded that I'm sure you'd never even know anyone else was out there next to you...even with the leaves off the trees.

There's a secret garden, which, oddly and awesomely, they tout, but don't tell you where it is, or show it on the map. With the light getting low, we headed past the camp sites and found grassy fields in the middle of no-where, and trials that split upon split upon split. It was getting darker and we weren't too sure of where we were, so we started to head back. We ran into a huge cement turret overlooking a stream, seemingly for no reason. Then I saw a cement wall, all covered with ivy and moss, and I screamed "Hang on!". I ran past the wall to reveal the beauty of the secret garden. It's so huge, you'd wonder how we (or anyone) missed it. It's truly secret, so I only shared a couple photos.

HOT SPRING POOLS
Okay, so the room was meh, but the pools are what we are here for, right? Well, the pools are magical. There are two pools. One pool is at the main lodge and the other is up the hill with the trailer sites and cabins. The lower pool is larger. We never made it up to the upper pool, but the lower pool was perfect for us. During the day, steam rose up and the rain came down, keeping us the perfect temperature. In the evening, the pool lights change color and create a really dreamy atmosphere with all the steam rising in it's varying colors. It's a bit more mellow past 8pm or so, as the kids have gone to bed, and the day users are mostly back on the road. Adults had beverages. I asked about that, because the literature stated "no alcoholic beverages at the pool", but the front desk said it's a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of thing. So red-cup it! Don't bring glass, so much stone, and bare feet.

HIKE TO THE BLUE POOL
There are quite a few trailheads around Belknap Hot Springs if you're up for some activity. The trailhead for the Blue Pool hike is just a couple of miles away, as is Tamolitch Falls. We see a lot of waterfalls being so close to the Columbia River Gorge, so, we opted for the Blue Pool. I've always wanted to see this. Check! Easy hike along the river with a little bit of scrambling over lava flows and some puddles. Like 200 feet of elevation gain. There were people running the trail, as well as mountain biking and hiking. We hit a great sunny afternoon and the view was worth it. You can hike down below, but once again, we were running low on light, so we turned around.

Hope this helps you get more familiar with just one more of Oregon's wonders. Let me know if you have any questions I can answer! 

Parking. Like everything else in Portland, it's weird.

Parking. Like everything else in Portland, it's weird.

Parking in the wrong direction.
A one block walk around my Alberta Arts neighborhood revealed 4 wrong-way parkers. You'd never see that downtown, but in Portland, we take it for granted that our City Parking Enforcement doesn't patrol residential neighborhoods, like mine...unless it gets a complaint. So long as you've been neighborly, you should be in the good to park in whatever direction you want.

But it's weird, right??

Gorge Fundraiser Update

Gorge Fundraiser Update

September has come and gone and so has our Columbia Gorge fundraiser. We wanted to thank the 50 or so people who participated in our fundraiser. We were able to donate almost $1000 split between the Search and Rescue efforts of Hood River County, and the American Red Cross.

Today, Brenden is off to present the check to the sheriff of Hood River County. They're so thankful for the support because Search and Rescue funding is finite and not nearly enough. The donations will help protect the safety of their search and rescue personnel. It  is paramount in these events and your donations will be utilized to enhance their safety.

Thank you to all who participated!