At long last, two of Oregon’s best cycling trails have been connected. Earlier this month, crews and volunteers from the City of Vernonia and Columbia County quietly filled the final gap that remained between the end of the Crown Z Trail (a.k.a. Crown Zellerbach Trail or just “the CZ”) and the start of the Banks-Vernonia Trail.
Last week we shared the news that the State of Oregon is considering a new bridge on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail across Highway 47. The old Tophill Trestle is damaged and needs to come down and a new online survey is asking users of the popular path if they’d support a plan to replace it with a new bridge.
The 21-mile Banks-Vernonia State Trail is a gem. This former railway route makes a vital connection in our regional bikeway network and the path has become a huge success, drawing thousands of adventure seekers and weekend warriors on sunny weekends. But if there’s one thing about it that could be improved, it’s the crossings — especially where it crosses Highway 47.
Now Oregon State Parks is embarking on a project that could make one key crossing better — and possibly lay the groundwork for a new biking/walking bridge over the highway.
The old Tophill Trestle sits just east of where the B-V Trail crosses Highway 47 about nine miles south of Vernonia at the Tophill parking lot and trailhead. It’s at mile 12 or about the half-way point of the path. On either side of the highway crossing the path descends and then climbs very steeply through a series of switchbacks. It’s so steep and windy that the state has signs encouraging people to walk their bikes. (Confession: On one foggy wintry morning a few years ago I crashed going down the south side!)
It’s easy to see why the railroad’s original route avoided this canyon by making a gradual and level turn high above where the highway runs today. The graphic below shows the two routes. The railway trestle is in yellow and the B-V Trail is blue.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Once you open yourself up to the possibility of riding unpaved roads, a whole new world awaits. That, to me, is one of the most exciting things about the “gravel riding” revolution. It’s like we just scored a bunch of new places to ride and it came without loss of blood or treasure.
I cherished the chance to ride Burn Road.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)
After riding the Beaver Falls Loop for the first time on Saturday, I was already smitten with the riding possibilities in Columbia County. Then the next day, my hosts at the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus — Glen and Sandy Crinklaw — led me on another one of their favorite rides: The Burn Road Loop.
The farmland west and north of Hillsboro would get a 15-mile off-road paved path connecting the Hillsboro Central MAX station directly to the Banks-Vernonia Trail, making one of the region’s easiest bike-to-nature trips even easier, under a plan that’s starting to roll forward this month.
One of the best things about bicycling in Portland isn’t even in Portland. It’s a small town called Vernonia. Situated a perfect day’s ride from Portland (about 50 miles, or less if you take MAX to HIllsboro), Vernonia is nestled in the woods at the end of about 20 miles of the smoothly paved Banks-Vernonia Trail.
This past weekend I packed up a few panniers and joined some friends for an overnight bike ride out to Vernonia. On the way out we rode through some great new trails and rural backroads through Washington County; and on the way back, we opted for logging roads and dirt trails that led us to Scappoose. Even under grey and wet skies all day Saturday, it was fantastic riding.
But what made this weekend so great wasn’t just the pedaling and the good company, it was the town of Vernonia itself. From the easy and comfortable camping at Anderson Park, to the hospitality of locals we experienced at Black Bear Coffee and the Cedar Side Inn.
Recent work to complete the Banks-Vernonia Trail continues to reap benefits for Washington County. It’s been one year since the 26 mile linear path was fully completed and it has quickly become a magnet that’s attracting both riders and official recognition.
Back in May, the trail won a top prize at Travel Portland’s 2011 Tourism and Hospitality Industry Awards. On Tuesday, Washington County announced that a portion of the trail completed last year has won Transportation Project of the Year honors from the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association.
(Photos © J. Maus)
(Photo: Evan Ross/Portland Bicycle Tours)
Travel Portland has announced that the Banks-Vernonia Trail is a recipient of a 2011 Tourism and Hospitality Industry Award.
Travel Portland recognized the trail with a “President’s Award,” for, “creating a new opportunity for our visitors to experience the natural beauty that is so accessible from Portland.”
The trail is a 21-mile linear state park created on a former railroad line between Banks and Vernonia. As of last October, the entire length of the trail is complete and offers people the ability to roll or walk the entire route without worrying about motor vehicles.