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Vernonia poised to become "Velo-nia"

Posted by on March 7th, 2007 at 3:00 pm

[Ric Balfour]

Trail advocate and planner Ric Balfour is spearheading an effort to transform the small town of Vernonia (about 45 miles west of Portland) into a cycling paradise.

The town already boasts the popular Banks-Vernonia Trail, a 20 mile Oregon State Parks trail between the towns of Banks and Vernonia, but Balfour sees much more potential and he’s working hard to create enthusiasm for bikes among the town’s 2,300 residents.

His biggest and most exciting project is the fledgling effort to create a bicycle skills and recreation park on 35 acres of an old mill site near Vernonia Lake.

[The Banks-Vernonia Trail is a popular destination for Portlanders and makes a great bike-camping from the city.]

The skills park effort recently got a big boost with a $10,000 grant from the Cycle Oregon Fund.

[Project leaders map out potential skills park sites.]

To move the effort forward, Balfour has created partnerships with the Vernonia Lions Club and the Vernonia Community Learning Center. The Lions Club hopes to work with Balfour to build a skateboard park alongside the bike skills park.

Balfour is teaching trail building classes, writing a monthly “Vernonia Velo News” newsletter, organizing fund raisers and generating support from the community. He hopes to break ground on June 2nd, which is National Trails Day.

More exciting trail news around Vernonia is the growing effort to establish the Crown Zellerbach (CZ) Trail that would connect Vernonia to Scappoose on an old hauling road.

Hopefully someday we can ride an off-highway path all the way from Portland, out to Vernonia, and back!

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DabbyRoger LoutonJosh mIan StudeScott Mizée Recent comment authors
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JeffH
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JeffH

What is a “bike skills” park?

Jonathan Maus
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it would be sort of like what a skate park is for skateboarders.

there would be trails and obstacles set up for all ranges of experiences. probably some free-ride stunts, elevated trails, jumps, that sort of thing.

trike
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trike

its a place devoid of roadies. unless thay provide camping.

Donald
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Donald

You know, as someone who has been looking for the perfect Vernonia property for over 3 years now, I can only echo our former great Governor McCall’s sentiment: Come often, leave early.

But I guess that’s a little selfish now, isn’t it?

Seriously, can we keep this great little gem of a community under our hat? As soon as they get rid of that little technical bit in the middle of the B-V trail, it’ll be overrun a-la Sauvie Island.

Or worse, Hood River…

Jeff
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Jeff

Vernonia is an awesome weekender. 2 fifty mile days, $8 camping, a 2 pub-pub crawl, lots of blackberry’s for pancakes, I caught crawdads and cooked em last summer. Even an asian restaraunt for vegetarians. It’s a good spring leg stretcher ride.

Scott Mizée
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heh heh heeeh…. Donald… Nice comments. Now I want to pay a visit out there. Thanks for the post, Jonathan!

Ian Stude
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Ian Stude

Thanks for posting this Jonathan. I think sleepy Vernonia would be happy to see more business from the bike community. I made the trek there last fall and it was one of my best rides of the season. The Banks-Vernonia trail is gorgeous! And a trail to Scappoose would be awesome. However, I do have a short list of suggested improvements to the existing trail (cuz we can always get better, right?):

1. While the unpaved sections of this route were somewhat exciting, it would be really nice to see it fully paved. This would like result in more visitors and wider range of cyclists.

2. Until said paving can be accomplished, several sections could use do de-graveling, specifically just north of the new state park. The gravel there was so loose and thick it was akin to quicksand.

3. Please remove the cables strung between ballards at street crossings (near Vernonia)! I realize that these are only up at night in some sort of attempt to close the trail, but they are EXTREMELY hazardous because they are nearly impossible to see. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remove these! For the sake of us all and especially for bicycle tour guides formerly employed by trimet… (sorry, inside joke, couldn’t be resisted)

Thanks, Ric, for all your efforts. Now I’m even more excited to make the trip to Vernonia again this year.

Josh m
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Josh m

Try growing up there, then it’s not quite as appealing 😉
I’ll be happy when Washington county bucks up and paves the rest of the path. That stretch in manning where you have to go down a gravel road that’s just like 2 inches of loose gravel, is pretty stressful. After that I just rode the highway over the hill instead of the trail.
The second time I went, I just avoided the trail and took the highway the whole time. Nothing like that 5 mile climb on a trackbike.

Roger Louton
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JeffH:

You should be able to find your answer here. As YOUR Western OR IMBA Rep, let me know if you have more questions about skills parks and technical trail features.

* NEW STUDY POINTS TO NEED FOR URBAN FREERIDE AREAS
A 2006 report released by the Outdoor Industry Association says that outdoor
enthusiasts increasingly seek activities that can be done close to home.
“The outdoor industry and policy makers must expand focus to include
frontcountry and urban recreation areas,” reads the OIA release. IMBA
couldn’t agree more. Read an article about urban freeride parks, published
in Parks and Recreation magazine, that outlines IMBA’s advice:
http://www.nrpa.org/content/default.aspx?documentId=3477

IMBA’s comprehensive freeriding resource pages can be found here:
http://www.imba.com/resources/freeriding/index.html

Dabby
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Dabby

I hope they are planning to open a bike polo court.
That would be great…