The nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has the enviable task of converting former rail lines into trails. The Banks-Vernonia Trail was the first Conservancy project in Oregon. It is an eight-foot wide, 21-mile paved trail that extends from the town of Banks, in Washington County, to the town of Vernonia in the coast range. The multi-use trail is open to bicyclists, walkers, and runners and is paralleled by a four-foot wide horse path. There are six separate trailheads spread out along the length of the trail. All of the trailheads are accessible by car, and most provide restrooms, picnic tables and ADA access.
What Makes It Great
The Banks-Vernonia Trail is paved, mostly level and rarely crowded, which makes it ideal for runners looking for easy miles in nature. Even on weekends it is easy to find solitary segments. The path is also varied enough to keep you interested. There are open fields, mountain views and long sections of canopied trail providing shade in the summer and enjoyable tunnels of color in autumn. The trail is also open year round, and much of it remains usable in winter. Of course, check conditions ahead of time.
In summer, a stay at the Stub Stewart State Park allows for an extended-length exploration of the Banks-Vernonia Trail to the top or bottom and back.
This trail is great because it is not swarmed by people, for starters. On weekdays you can go for miles without encountering another soul. Crowds are never an issue as the trail is still somehow off of most outdoor enthusiasts radar. The fact that there are 6 different trailheads that access the path along its length means you can tailor the duration and variety of your run with ease.
The Banks-Vernonia Trail extends for 21 paved miles through canopied second growth forest and open meadows. The scenery also ranks highly, especially for those that enjoy forest running. The well-graded path sees use from bicyclists, hikers, and runners.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone in search of relatively easy, paved miles in a forest setting will love this run or ride. The trail is perfect for runners looking for a little open space and the chance to escape boredom by exploring a new area. In addition, the Banks-Vernonia Trail is paralleled by a four-foot wide horse trail. Thus, making it one of the few trails in the area that is equine friendly as well.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are 6 different trailheads along the length of the trail. All equipped with parking and restrooms.
The path can of course become slippery during rainy or icy conditions.