Trails: Banks-Vernonia Trail

Banks Vernonia State Trail Buxton Bridge Run

We’ll put aside, temporarily, our love for all things dirt and direct our attention to the Banks-Vernonia Trail, a paved rail-trail located a short 30-minute drive west from Portland.

Named for the small towns at the trail’s endpoints, the 21-mile-long B-V trail was developed in the 1920s for railroad logging, eventually passing into ownership by Oregon State Parks.

Like most linear parks there are numerous access points between the southern terminus off Highway 26 in Banks and Anderson Park in Vernonia. More detailed info along with an informative map and brochure can be found at oregonstateparks.org.

The trail’s elevation profile resembles a gently sloping bell curve: flat near both ends, gradually rising to its high point near Tophill (mile 12).

One of my favorite starting points is at Buxton, near mile 7, where there’s a large parking area with a restroom. Running west (up the hill) from here you’ll avoid the flatter, less interesting parts of the trail while enjoying more forest canopy.

Though the trail has gained in popularity over the last few years—there are 1/2 and full marathons on it every April and nearby Stub Stewart State Park disgorges a fair number of bikes and walkers in the summer—it’s a nice break from the crowds of Forest Park.

The opportunity for a long training run uninterrupted by cars and stoplights is always valued…even if it is on pavement. (Oh well, we can’t have everything.)

-Phil Orlowski

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