Oregon is known for its rich vegetation and beautiful natural scenery. It also prides itself on having some of the best spots for nature biking and hiking in the country.
One such spot is the popular Banks Vernonia Trail, a trail stretching 21 miles and connecting the towns of Banks and Vernonia. It is paved all through, making it ideal for bikers of all skill levels.
The trail starts at the intersection of the North-West Sellers Road and North-West Banks Road in Banks and ends at Vernonia Lake in Vernonia. A Banks Vernonia Trail map is available on the trail’s website.
An interesting fact about the trail is that it was originally a railroad corridor in the early 20th century and was used to ferry timber from the lumber-rich regions in Keasey and Vernonia to Portland.
Taking a biking trip on the Banks Vernonia Trail is quite an adventure, as the trail is blessed with a number of interesting things along its stretch.
What to See on the Bank Vernonia Trail
1. A Rich Biosphere with a Wide Variety of Birds
The primary attraction of the Banks Vernonia Trail is its rich biodiversity. This doesn’t come much of a surprise as Vernonia was once one of the largest logging hubs of Oregon.
The dense vegetation spread along the Banks Vernonia Trail comes with a huge bird population that includes some rare species. The red-capped woodpecker is particularly common along the route.
If you’re a birdwatcher or just have a soft spot for nature, then you’ll be in for a treat on the Bank Vernonia Trail.
2. The Amazing Scenery in the LL Stub Stewart Memorial State Park
The Banks Vernonia Trail connects to the LL Stub Stewart Memorial State Park.
This park was established in 2007 and offers bikers and hikers a tranquil and peaceful natural environment where they can relax. Originally called the Hare’s Canyon State Park, the park was renamed in honor of a renowned lumberman and philanthropist, Loran LaSells “LL” Steward.
The park is made up of 669 hectares of towering forests and lush vegetation, making it one of the largest parks in Oregon. And if that’s not enough, the Stewart Memorial State Park also features some picturesque hills and canyons.
3. The Retro Buxton Railroad Trestle
Often considered as the highlight of the Bank Vernonia Trail, the Buxton Trestle is another prominent feature along the route.
Constructed in 1920, Buxton Trestle was used by the early 20th-century steam engine locomotives and traveling across it leaves a retro nostalgia feeling.
Traversing over 600 feet in length and 80 feet in height, the Buxton Trestle is the largest railroad trestle you’ll come across on your trip. At the trestle, you’ll have a great view of the Mendenhall Creek.
4. The Eerie Remains of the Horseshoe Trestle
Still, on the Banks Vernonia State Trail are the remains of another ancient railroad trestle, the Tophill Trestle or as it was better known, the Horseshoe Trestle.
This was an important railroad trestle before it was destroyed in the fire incident in 1986. It’s hard to imagine that the heavy steam locomotives used to bellow at this particular spot.
The Horseshoe Trestle is not as long or as high as the Buxton Trestle, but it still is one of the most memorable spots along the entire trail.
You can’t help but recognize and respect the significance that the trestle had on the development of the State of Oregon.
5. The Towns of Banks and Vernonia
The towns at the start and end of the trail, Banks and Vernonia, are also quite something. Banks is a tiny town, and its laid-down atmosphere acts as a brief preview of the peace and quiet of the Banks Vernonia trail.
At the tail end of the trail, is the small logging town of Vernonia. Aside from the lush vegetation and scenic views, the humble town has a number of high-class hotels where you can get a nap after a long day on the trail.
You can also sample the amazing local cuisine over a few beers at one of the many restaurants in Vernonia. Some great suggestions are the Black Iron Grill and the popular La Cabana Restaurant. And if you visit in August, you can also attend the annual Friendship Jamboree festival.
How to Access the Banks Vernonia Trail
You can access the Bank Vernonia Trail either from Banks or Vernonia. Only non-motorized modes of transport are allowed along the trail – this means no motorbikes allowed.
In addition, it’s important to note that the trailhead leading the Banks Vernonia Trail into the LL Stub Stewart State Park will be inaccessible from December through to February 2018 during which a forest thinning project will be taking place.