Tucked along the Row River, just as it enters Dorena Reservoir, is Bake Stewart Park. In the past, we’ve visited Bake Stewart Park sporadically. It is a good place to launch a canoe, I often see people fishing there, and it is a quiet place to walk our dogs.
During those unseasonable sunny days earlier this spring, we headed out to Bake Stewart Park for a change of pace. We quickly discovered that we have been missing out — Bake Stewart Park is alive with wildflowers in the spring! At that time, I was delighted to find a large meadow full of Checker Lilies, a wildflower I had never seen before. Since then, I have made special trips out there just to see what wildflowers are currently in bloom. I’ve never been disappointed with the abundance.
Although I am just discovering the spring beauty at Bake Stewart Park, it is obvious others have known about it. As it turns out, the Army Corps of Engineers (which owns and maintains the park) is in the process of making some significant changes there. According to signage at the park, it contains some of the “highest quality upland prairie and oak habitat left in the Willamette Valley.” And that habitat “supports a variety of rare and declining wildflower and grass species” which the Corps feels needs better protection.
Starting this year, the Corps will be mowing less to allow the wildflowers to go to seed, thus promoting a better habitat for them. And they have plans to provide interpretive signs and other materials so that people can learn about the wildflowers, wild life, and other natural resources in the park. Also in the works is a new trail which will connect Bake Stewart Park to the Row River Trail system, so that riders and walkers won’t need to travel along the road to get from the park to the trail.
We plan to make Bake Stewart a more regular part of our dog walking. I think it will be fun to see what other wildflowers it has in store for us, as well as to watch the Corps’ plans take shape.
Logistics: Bake Stewart Park is not identified on Google Maps, however this map produced by the BLM of the Row River Trail shows its location well. If you’d like to go there, head out Row River Road, at approximately 4.3 miles from the lights at Gateway, be sure to turn left to stay on Row River Road. Bake Stewart Park is on your right roughly 6.4 miles after the turn. Facilities include garbage cans and vault toilets.
At the Park, you will find a few places to access the Row River at the head of Dorena Reservoir and gravel roads for walking and enjoying the wildflowers. There is very little traffic within the park. Sometimes, the gates into the Park are closed, just park near Row River Road and walk in.
(Click on any image to see a larger photo.)