Located inside the "Welcome Center" (ranger station) at the entrance to Stub Stewart State Park, the Discovery Depot contains a mixture of educational materials about the wildlife in the park and the logging history of the surrounding hillsides.
You will find a stuffed cougar, two living Northwest Aligator Lizards, and an entire wall covered in history and historical artifacts.
Be sure to also visit the "Discovery Table: Please Touch" towards the center of the room, which is covered in items that people are allowed to touch.
There are also a number of brochures available here about varous state parks nearby, the Oregon Coast, and various other tourist information.
While the history and wildlife information on display here isn't extremely extensive, it is free of charge to come in and take a look.
The Discovery Depot also includes a number of items for sale, but I have covered those items in a %Lhttp://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/20091d/]shopping tip. This includes a number of local artworks and some locally made food items.
There are over 20 miles of trails in "Stub" Stewart State Park. Some of these are suitable for hiking only, while others are open to horse riding or mountain biking. All of the trails I have run into in the park are very well marked, except for one trail that was still under construction at the time of my most recent visit.
Some of the hills are quite steep, but in most places gradual slopes have been followed, where possible.
Trail maps are located on the back page of the park brochure (available on the web site, below, or at the ranger station) and at the Hilltop Day Use Area. Each of the trails are numbered and a section to the left of the map describes each trail in more detail, including length.
This is the Coast Range, and that means that the weather is wet much of the time. The natural result, unfortunately, is that some of the places where horses, mountain bikes and hikers share the trail are quite a murky muddy mess due to the trail surface not being able to withstand high stress concentrations produced by horses hooves or bike tires.
Many of the trails pass through second growth forest, but one trail climbs up to the top of the hill at the highest point in the park - "Unfit for Settlement Viewpoint", so named because an explorer in 1879 remarked on his survey map remarked "Mountainous, Unfit for Settlement".
The Banks-Vernonia Trail passes through the park. Both uphill to Tophill and downhill to Manning are nice sections of this paved trail.
The primary parking location and starting point for activities in Stub Stewart State Park is the Hilltop Day Use Area. The bad news is that this means that if you go out on the hiking trails or take a trip on the Banks-Vernonia Trail, you have an uphill climb to get back to your car. While there is a parking area at the ranger station closer to the bottom of the hill, that area is specifically reserved for those in the station, and visitors using the rest of the park are requested to use the Hilltop Day Use Area if they are not in the ranger station.
The good news is that from the Hilltop Day Use Area there is an extensive view to the west.
The bad news about that view is that it is mostly ex-forest land. Logging has been extensive, and the resulting clearcuts and scarred landscape look more like something from some textbook on poor land use practices than they do a "forest". But, the view is there at least.
There is a covered shelter that is available on a first-come first served basis. This is equipped with sinks and other features that make it a slight step up from many city park covered picnic areas.
There are a large number of picnic tables scattered through the cleared area. Only one or two of these near the picnic shelter have cooking stands, but there are several picnic tables that have complete water and electrical hookup.
There is an off-leash pet area near the north end of the day use area, and flush toilets are available at the south end of the day use area, near the picnic shelter.
Several hiking trails start from this location, including trails at both the south and north ends of the area.
The cabin village is located at the north end of the Day Use area, so please try to have some respect for the people spending the night there.
Stub Stewart State Park is very unique among the rural Oregon State Parks (or even the more urban ones such as Tryon Creek!) in that it does have public transit service. The service is not very frequent: three times per weekday each direction with no weekend or holiday service. This transit route is called the "Nehalem Valley Route" and it is operated by Columbia County Rider between the Willow Creek transit center in Hillsboro (where it connects to various transit routes) and Vernonia.
The service only operates into the park as far as the visitor's center / park office near the main entrance. Any further than that into the park and you are on your own.
However, the service is at least available, and that is more than what can be said of even Tryon Creek State Park.
Going south from Vernonia to Hillsboro, the service passes by the entrance to the park at 6:30 am, 12:50 pm, and 4:50 pm. From Hillsboro to Vernonia, it is 7:55 am, 2:10 pm, and 6:25 pm.
All fares are one-way, with no transfers issued, and are as of this writing $4.80 one way.
Several park and ride parking places at the state park headquarters indicate the location of the transit stop there.
At least some of the buses are equipped with bike racks so that it is possible for you to bring your bike with you on the bus - which is good for those who intend to ride the Banks to Vernonia State Trail by taking the bus one way and returning by bike, or otherwise use the bus to get to where they can bike.
This little store is special and unique to the spot because it is the only place in LL "Stub" Stewart State Park that has anything for sale.
Unlike some of the other state park stores, this store sells local artwork and a certain amount of locally produced home made foods.
What to buy: Jams and Jellies and other Small Foodstuffs
Saw blades (with a nod to the local logging industry) painted as works of art
various other artwork including metal sculptures of various sorts and paintings.
There are also post cards, greeting cards, and other similar items.
I would highly suggest NOT buying the various stuffed toys and other items that you can get just about anywhere. There is no particular reason to by that type of thing here and cart it home unless it is something that you absolutely can't get back home.