Today on the Land Use Trail: Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Throughout this summer, we'll be featuring stops on our new Land Use Trail. Today, September 3: Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Just outside of the Portland metro area, lies one of Oregon’s most unique multi-use trails, attracting many thousands of people and invigorating the local economy.

About: Oregon’s first rail-trail, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail connects 21 miles of Washington and Columbia county woodlands, via an abandoned logging railroad right of way just a few miles from the state’s most populous metro region. Completed after 20 years of volunteer activism, the trail is used by over 250,000 cyclists, hikers, and equestrians annually, providing a major economic boost to its anchor towns. 

Key Fact: The original rail line was built in 1913 by the Portland, Astoria and Pacific Railroad to transport freight, lumber, and people. It continued to haul lumber until 1957. From 1960 to 1965, it hosted a steam excursion train, but was finally abandoned in 1973. The Oregon Department of Transportation purchased the right of way soon after, but the trail was not fully completed until 2010.

 Another Cool Fact: The trail crosses 12 bridges. The most notable is the Buxton Trestle, 600 feet long and 80 feet high. Another high trestle, the Horseshoe or Tophill Trestle, remains inaccessible to hikers and cyclists.

 Visit: 

  • Discover Banks-Vernonia with Oregon State Parks
  • Stub Stewart State Park, located about halfway along the ride, is an excellent rest stop or camping opportunity. Another 20 miles of trails are open to mountain bikers there. It opened in 2007.
  • Don’t have a bike for the trail? Rent one at Banks Bicycles conveniently located at the start of the trail. 

 Learn more:

Riding or hiking on the Banks-Vernonia Trail this summer or fall? Share your photos with us! We'll pass them on. Several ways to share!

See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

Help us support great Oregon places at friends.org/support.

Text by Nathen Lamb, Communications Intern. Photo by 1000 Friends staff member Craig Beebe.