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Fort Stevens Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Coffenbury Lake, Fort Stevens State Park (bobcat)
Bridge over Swash Lake, Fort Stevens State Park (bobcat)
Bow of the Peter Iredale, Fort Stevens State Park (bobcat)
Shore pines along Battery Russell Trail, Fort Stevens State Park (bobcat)
Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park (bobcat)
The loop hike around Fort Stevens State Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Military Museum TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Coffenbury Lake
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 40 feet
  • High Point: 30 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Only around parking areas; more crowded in the summer

Contents

Hike Description

To get the full scope of this extensive and varied state park, which harbors Oregon State Parks' largest campground, you will need to hike both foot and bicycle trails. The latter are better walked during the cool months when the campground is at low occupancy. The walk begins at the Military Museum, which details the defenses at the mouth of the Columbia; then you can hike the low, vegetated dunes and marshes to the rusting remnants of a 1906 shipwreck, head inland to a pretty coastal lake, and explore some of the Civil War-era artillery ramparts. Interpretive signs enlighten at strategic locations. This hike can be combined with the Fort Stevens Military Loop Hike and the Clatsop Spit Loop Hike to round out your investigation of the state park. Pick up a brochure and trail map at the fee station.

Walk a little south of the Military Museum and meet a paved bike path heading west. Pass the park host's dwelling and then go through a fence with a gate and into an alder/spruce/sedge swamp. Hike through thickets of alder and crabapple and then cross a wide, arched foot/bike bridge over the outlet creek from Swash lake. Battery 245, part of Fort Stevens' World War II fortifications, can be seen across this slough to the right. Swash Lake can be seen through the shore pines to the left. At a junction, go right for the South Jetty on the Trestle Bay Trail. This paved bike trail heads through shore pine, alder, spruce and willow on swampy land. The thickets also harbor wax-myrtle, sword fern, evergreen huckleberry, holly, and Scots broom. Cross the Clatsop Spit road and reach the junction with the Kestrel Dune Trail.

Here, go left on a lumpy bike path. The dune crest is to the right, but the intervening land is a little swampy and dotted with shore pines, alders, spruce, Scots broom, and willow. At the junction with the Battery Russell Trail, keep straight for the beach and the Peter Iredale in a mossy, dark woodland composed of sedge, spruce and alder. Cross the beach access road to a junction with a bike path. Go right here and head towards the beach, walking parallel to the road under shore pines. Eventually, reach the beach parking area. From here, go down on the sand to the Peter Iredale. Over a hundred years of weathering has taken its toll: now just the rusted bow protrudes along with a few rusty ribs along the length of the ship. From the beach, you can see from Cape Disappointment to the north to Tillamook Head to the south. Return along the bike trail to the junction and keep straight. The path skirts a clearcut area to the left and veers right into a forest of tall shore pines. At a junction before a bike tunnel going under the access road, go right for Coffenbury Lake.

Walk below the restrooms and through the picnic area. Head right along the shore and a small sandy beach to pick up the footpath leading up the alder-lined west shore of the lake. The path rises under Sitka spruce with evergreen huckleberry, sword fern, salal and holly in the undergrowth. Then the trail drops and keeps along a shoreline shaded by cedars and shore pines. Reach some larger spruces and the marshy south end of the lake. At a trail junction, go left on a vegetated causeway with more wetland on the right. The trail runs close to the eastern shore now. Look for waterfowl, including flotillas of buffleheads. Pass through a grassy picnic area and keep to the shore to pick up the trail again. Eventually, reach the Coffenbury Lake Trailhead and parking area, cross it, and pick up the bike trail heading back to the junction by the tunnel.

Go right and through the tunnel for Battery Russell and the Historic Area. Twenty yards beyond the tunnel, an unmarked hiking trail leads up to the left. Ascend a grassy track. Soon the trail veers off the track to the right and up into a shore pine forest. Undulate along on vegetated sand dunes under Sitka spruce. Go up a grassy track to Battery Russell, passing first the Battery Commander’s Station. Take an old road bed through a fence and walk through Battery Russell to its parking lot. There’s an alder swamp to the right.

Hike along the right side of the parking lot on a sidewalk to a junction. Turn right here and then keep left at another junction for the Historic Area and South Jetty. At the next junction, keep straight on the paved bike path at a ditch lined with alders and sedge. Enter lovely spruce and hemlock woodland, the best in the park. Salal, evergreen huckleberry, sword fern and salmonberry form a lush understory. Cross an arched bridge over an access road and then take a bridge over a creek on the Isaac Stevens Trail. The path veers right here. There’s an extensive wetland on the right, part of Swash Lake. At a junction, go right and then take a spur leading right to a viewing platform over the wetland. At the next junction, keep right for the Historic Area, and cross the arched bike/pedestrian bridge to head back to the museum parking.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 day-use fee
  • Dogs on leash
  • Campground, day-use areas, museum, interpretive signs

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and the Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking Oregon's History by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon's North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • A Hiker's Guide to the Oregon Coast Trail by David E.M. Bucy & Mary C. McCauley
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
  • Off-Street Paved Bike Paths in Oregon by Rick Bronson
  • Mountain Biking Oregon: Northwest and Central Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • More Oregon Trails and Horse Camps by Kim McCarrel
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

More Links

Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.