Last spring I wrote numerous times about Bake Stewart Park and the glorious wildflowers growing there. For many years, we visited this park only occasionally, however since our wildflower discovery we’ve made a point to go out there more often.
Over the past year we’ve watched as the Army Corps of Engineers worked to revitalize the habitat for the native prairie wildflowers as well as Roemer’s fescue, a native grass. They have adjusted their mowing schedule to allow the wildflowers the time needed to mature and set seed. And, they have limited car access inside the park. There is also a better connection between Bake Stewart Park and the Row River Trail.
When you visit, you’ll find a new parking lot, additional signs, new bike racks, and a path to the Row River Trail.
It is just over a quarter mile from the parking lot to the Row River Trail, and the path is either packed dirt or kinda loose gravel. I’ve often felt that this section of the Row River Trail lacked good access, and so this new trail head is a great addition. From here you can explore the upper reaches of Dorena Reservoir (to the northwest), or head southeast into the Row River Valley to the towns of Dorena and Culp Creek.
Alternatively, with this new connecting trail, you can now easily access Bake Stewart Park if you are out for a ride on the Row River Trail. There are picnic tables here, access to the Row River, and of course, the wildflowers. A recent article in the Cottage Grove Sentinel noted that there are over 200 different species of wildflowers in Bake Stewart Park alone. Many are in bloom right now, including this little beauty which I grew up calling Cat’s Ear.
How to get there: 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. From Cottage Grove 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.