Located 10 miles west of Astoria, Fort Stevens was built in 1864 and remained an active military defense installation until 1947. Fort Stevens guarded the mouth of the Columbia River during a period from the Civil War era until the end of World War II. The name was given after former governor of the Washington Territory General Isaac Stevens, who was killed in Virginia in 1862.
The early 20th century was characterized by the significant development of the military site. Eight concrete gun batteries and Battery Russell were built in the fort to defend the Oregon territory. Battery Russell is located south of other gun batteries and faced the ocean.
On Sunday, June 21, 1942, at 11.30 p.m., a Japanese Navy submarine I-25 bypassed the coastal waters of the United States and attacked the Battery Russell. Approximately seventeen shells were fired at the battery direction. Fortunately, there were no serious consequences, just the minimal property damage. It's still unclear why soldiers received the order not to fire back.
Fort Stevens was the only one continental U.S. military base to be attacked by a foreign army since the War of 1812.
After World War II, the fort was deactivated, equipment removed, some buildings were demolished, but almost all batteries are available for exploration today.
The 4,300-acre Fort Stevens State Park has been open to the public since 1955.
Historic Military Site
Take a walking tour and explore the primary military defense installation with massive concrete bunkers and other old structures. In the visitor center, you will see Harbor Defense System at the mouth of the Columbia River, old photos, weapons, and a scale model of the Battery Russell 10'' gun. Guided tours are available during the summer months.
Shipwreck of Peter Iredale
The skeleton of the shipwreck of Peter Iredale is a popular attraction within Fort Stevens State Park. Peter Iredale ran ashore on Clatsop Spit, south of the Columbia River channel on October 25, 1906. The wreckage is considered one of the most accessible and long-lasting in the world.
Fort Stevens Hiking Trails
There are over six miles of hiking and nine miles of biking trails.
Kestrel Dune Trail - a 1.3-mile biking trail along the coast to Peter Iredale Shipwreck.
Coffenbury Lake Trail - a 2-mile long loop hiking trail around Coffenbury Lake.
Battery Russell Trail - a 1-mile trail along the dune's ridge from Battery Russell to the north end of Coffenbury Lake.
Coffenbury Lake is a 56-acre typical coastal lake, containing water of rainfalls and snow that was trapped between sandy dunes decades ago. There are no inflowing or outflowing streams. Fluctuation of level depends on seasonal changes in the water table.
Situated at the mouth of the Columbia River, the narrow freshwater lake is about a mile long. The lake was named after George Washington Coffenberry (Coffenbury), the first settler from West Virginia who became a four-term county judge for Clatsop County just before the Oregon Territorial Court was established in 1849.
The lake is located in a coastal dense forest and features a variety of wildlife. Around the lake, you can see squirrels, martens, otters, minks, skunks, beavers, and a wide diversity of birds. You might be lucky to see elk or deer coming from the forest to drink water.
Warm water temperature during summer makes the lake a perfect place for warm water fish reproduction and, eventually, for fishing. Anglers can catch largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, brown bullhead, and yellow perch. Also, the lake is stocked with adult hatchery steelhead and legal-size rainbow trout.
Coffenbury Lake is a great destination for swimming, boating, canoeing, and paddling. Motorized boats with a 10 mph speed limit are permitted (gas-powered boats are not allowed). There are fishing docks, boat ramps, sandy beaches, and picnic sites.
South Jetty | Clatsop Spit | Point Adams
The 9.7-mile rocky Jetties - South Jetty on the Oregon side and North Jetty on the Washington side were built between 1885 and 1895 to keep the mouth of the Columbia River from moving to prevent clogging the river mouth by sand.
Point Adams is situated at the southern edge of the mouth of the Columbia River. A large sand Clatsop Spit extends from the Point Adams to the northern edge of South Jetty. Drive from the Fort Stevens Park entrance for 3.9 miles to the parking area C at the jetty near Jetty Observation Tower. The 20-foot viewing platform provides an impressive view of the ocean, huge waves and a busy marine traffic along the South Jetty.
Fort Stevens State Park | General Description
Managed: Oregon State Park
Acreage: 4,300 acres
Services: Information center, museum, picnicking sites, boat ramp, drinking water, garbage service, fishing decks, and restrooms
Activities: Swimming, watersports, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, horse riding, historic site with a museum, scenic viewpoint of the Pacific Ocean and Peter Iredale shipwreck
Day-use fees: Yes or Parking Permit for State Parks
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Usage: Moderate to heavy
Accommodations: Campground sites, yurts, and cabins
Elevation: 19 ft (6 m)
Fort Stevens State Park is located:
- 11 miles west of Astoria
- 94 miles west of Portland
- 124 miles northwest of Salem.
Festivals and Events
Civil War Reenactment in Fort Stevens State Park takes place at the beginning of September.
Wild Mushroom Identification and Guided Hikes happen a few times on weekends in October and November.
From the junction of Highway 101 and Highway 30 in Astoria,
- Follow 3.2 miles to the southwest to Warrenton (Seaside/Airport)
- Turn right onto Fort Stevens Highway Spur, then turn left onto Fort Stevens (Main Street)
- Turn right onto 18th Street, which merges onto Ridge Road
- Drive 3.5 miles to Fort Stevens State Park.
Phone: 503-861-3170 x 21