For some years, Brad and I have talked about trying to find a way to Stubb Stewart State Park that is completely unpaved or at least mostly gravel. After some more research and routes posted by Our Mother The Mountain, we were able to stitch some routes together that make for a very interesting, low traffic route. Thanks to AJ for putting the bits together!

Day 1 – Get to Stubb

We met for breakfast at St Honore. Saw some roadies that looked like they were doing The Ronde. After getting some pastries in my belly and a last minute supply stop at the Food Co-op, we were on our way by 9:30-ish. The sun was already beaming down and quickly raising the temperature.

Easy Riding

Pedaling up Thurman to Forest park gave us a taste of the day ahead. Warm, sweaty, and slow going. Loaded mountain bikes aren’t idea for getting up paved roads. After a couple of miles riding on Leif Erikson, the foot traffic died down and gave us the impression that we three had the park to ourselves.

A quick stop at Skyline Tavern to top off our water bottles.

After 14 miles of riding, we were popped out onto Skyline Boulevard which is part of a bunch of popular roadie routes, but I find it largly unpleasant to pedal due to fast traffic, no shoulder, and sometimes blind curves. I’m surprised more haven’t died out here.

Around mile 29, we got off the main road and onto a hiddle bit of single track that paralleled heavy traffic. While on this trail, we stopped for a bit of lunch and a breather after 3,000 feet of climbing. While on this trail, we heard some incoming voices and out comes one of my co-workers and his friend on gravel bikes out for a day ride. It was a hell of a surprise to see them out in nowheresville, but we were on an OMTM route that is getting popular with gravel riders.

Weather Radar?

After lunch, we continued on pedaling on some dirt and paved roads for a few more miles. Eventually we found ourselves under some powerlines and steep double track. It was gorgeous but very challenging riding.

Shortly after the powerlines, we found a small moving stream to filter some water. It was in the high 70F range, but being in direct sunlight and working this hard we found ourselves parched at all times.

Eventually, we found ourselves on some old logging roads that were still open to traffic but we really didn’t see anyone out there. It was blissful to ride in the trees, wind blowing gently overhead, and the sound of gravel crunching under our tires.

Clearcut: A sad reality of Oregon forests

One flat-ish tire, snack breaks, and a few nature breaks later, we turned onto a non-descript bit of single track that finally lead into Stub Stewart State Park. Just in time for that golden hour light.

From the trail head, it was nearly 3 miles of single and double track to the campsites. Luckily, we found a nice site to share next to a few other groups of cyclists.

It was a perfect day.

Day 2 – Explore and Get Home

I think we all slept decently that night, but I was the last to get up. I like my beauty sleep especially after a tough day of riding. But I did get up around 3am to use the toilet and see if I could get any pics of stars. The cloud cover that rolled in after dark didn’t cooperate.

We all had breakfast, packed up, and headed out by 8am. It was going to be another long day of exploration, climbing up hills, and being in the sun.

We headed north on the Banks Vernonia Trail to another hidden pull-off onto a dirt road. See a pattern here?

More miles of gravel roads onto another hidden bit of singletrack that lead to some abandoned logging roads and onto what will soon be part of the Salmonberry Trail into the small town of Timber.

Rather than push on to explore further West, we opted to take Timber road south towards highway 26 until we turned back East onto the route via old logging roads that were still open to the public. We saw a group of gravel rides coming the opposite direction and a couple of trucks, but largely had the place to ourselves.

Finding our way through the Tillamook forest and its network of logging roads is always an adventure as we hopped over logs, cruised through clear-cut areas, and bombed down gravel roads.

The riding was again very warm, dry, and dusty. We couldn’t complain.

Around mile 20 for the day, we got dumped back onto pavement and had to say goodbye to gravel for the trip. It was smooth sailing to Banks where we stopped for a pizza lunch and texting to let our respective significant others know our status.

The last 12 miles or so back to Hillsboro to catch a MAX to Portland was rather uneventful and frankly a bit boring.

In all, it was a great and exhausting day of riding. Can’t wait to do it again.

What worked, What didn’t

  • Tyvek is cheap, lightweight, but NOISEY ground sheet to sleep on.
  • Didn’t eat enough calories. Food like rice crackers are just not dense enough.
  • Nutella for the win
  • Why would I bring cucumber? There’s no calories in that?
  • Don’t always need a fire. But the time it got dark, we were all ready for bed.
  • Bike felt heavy
  • A little over-prepared for cold weather
  • My cook kit feels heavy. Looking for an alternative to shave weight for UL setups.
  • Fleece sweatshirts are bulky. Need something warm but packs small and light.
  • Sleeping back is so heavy compared to my old REI Sub-Kilo.

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