“This paved rail-to-trail offers several miles of rural running through beautiful forests and fields.
— Brock Warner
The Banks-Vernonia State Trail can be a great way to cover a lot of miles outside of the city. Always rolling through the forest or between fields, it can be a great place to clear your head. In the rainy season it can also be a good way to stretch your legs without destroying any fragile trails.
This 22-mile, completely paved rail-to-trail offers plenty of room to stretch your legs and get in a nice, rural run when you're tired of the city. Six well-cultivated trailheads provide ample access to the various landscapes encountered on the old rail-line.
Starting in Banks is probably the most common practice for Portlanders; a large parking lot makes this a great starting point. The first five miles are very flat as the trail cuts between fields and tree lines. At the five mile marker, the trail begins a lengthy but reasonable climb towards the L.L. Stub Stewart State Park.
At around mile twelve, the trail abruptly drops down some switchbacks, crosses Highway 47 at the Tophill Trailhead, and then quickly climbs back up some steep switchbacks. After this short but steep climb, the route will begin the long, very gradual downhill towards the town of Vernonia.
At mile seventeen, the path begins to closely follow Highway 47, but don't worry, the trail is always separated. Before long, the trail enters Vernonia and eventually winds up on the banks of Vernonia Lake.
Given the length of this trail, runners may want to only cover a portion of the trail or arrange for a shuttle back to Banks.