If you live near Astoria, Oregon, you probably already know about the fabulous riding at Fort Stevens State Park. If you don’t live nearby, here’s a tip: next time you go camping at Nehalem Bay State Park, take a day to trailer out to Fort Stevens for a ride. You’ll be glad you did.
Fort Stevens State Park offers wonderful beach riding. You can ride two miles north to the jetty at the Columbia River, or you can ride south on the beach for four miles. If the military isn’t holding firing practice at Camp Rilea, you can ride south all the way to Gearhart – about twelve miles one way.
As an added bonus, riding the beach takes you to the wreck of the Peter Iredale, a 4-masted steel sailing ship that ran aground on its way to the Columbia River in 1906. The ship was sold for scrap, so all that remains are the parts that were too deeply embedded in the sand to be removed. And there they remain, 115 years later. It’s a fascinating sight.
Fort Stevens State Park also offers miles of riding in the dunes, on five different trails that offer more variety than you’ll find anywhere else on the Oregon Coast. As you ride the trails close to the beach, you’ll see stunted trees that have been twisted by the wind into delightfully tortured shapes.
As you ride farther inland, the trees grow huge, the undergrowth is dense, and everything is covered with a thick layer of moss. By linking the beach and dunes trails together, you can create rides of whatever distance you want, with plenty to see along the way.
The trails at Fort Stevens are wonderful, so next time you’re planning a trip to Nehalem Bay State Park, do a day trip to Fort Stevens. You’ll be glad you did!
The riding at Fort Stevens is covered in more detail in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.