Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Banks-Vernonia Trail

 The Banks-Vernonia State trail.
I had heard about this trail a few times over the years but luckily just last weekend finally got the chance to check it out. 
My initial plan for the day had actually been to hit the Mt bike trail at Hagg Lake, but heavy rains left me thinking a 15 mile mud ride was a bit much for a late start on a Saturday afternoon. Plus, I had been there many times and I really enjoy finding new places, so.......... I altered my plans, choosing instead to explore something new.
As usual, I like to mix my passion for the outdoors with my love of photography, so packing light with just my iphone and my canon g15 scout camera, I loaded up my bike and hit the road.

Located just about a half hr west of Portland, its just far enough to feel like your out of town, yet close enough to get to for that quick second half of the day ride.

The trail starts in Banks and follows the old railway for 21 miles to Vernonia, passing through LL Stub Stewart Park at around the 9 mile mark, which was my destination for the day.


Being a paved trail from a converted railway line, there no major hill climbs, just a slow steady grade as you make your way through the farmlands, then wind your way up into the Mt.  


A few miles out of town you cross this amazing old bridge that has been totally redone for bikers.
If your there with your camera, this is a must stop location. If your an iphone user, don't forget your panorama feature as it can come in really handy here.

Once across the bridge and out of the farm lands you start making your way into the Mt. While the trail stays mellow and easy, it does get a tad steeper, but rewards you with a beautiful and relaxing ride with photo ops all around. Not much in the way of viewpoints as the trail stays in a canopy of trees for most of the way. So, if your heading there with your camera, a cloudy day will work best to avoid all the contrasty highlights and shadows.

At around the 9 mile mark from Banks you enter LL Stub Stewart State Park.
This is a GREAT new state park with everything from your usual tent and RV camp spots, to hike in tent camping, cabins, disc golf and...............Mt bike trails!!!
While I enjoyed the ride to the park, ridding paved trails isnt really my thing, and now the dirt trails were calling my name! 
There are around 20 miles of trails to choose from. Fun down hill rides and easy free style jumps are all part of the fun on this well thought out and excellent riding area.
It gets pretty dark in this dense treed canopy, so if your there to shoot some pics, be sure to bring a tripod for the scenics and fast glass for action shots of the bikers

While the ride up was a bit slow with the constant climb, the ride back was quick and easy. I didn't realize how fast I would make it back, and would have stayed at the dirt trails longer had I known the trip down the Mt. would only take me about 25 min, compared to the 2hr ride up. Yes, I really am that out of shape...

Try as a might, I couldn't find a trail map online anywhere, but here is a shot of the trail map they have posted at the campground.

How to get there.

The Banks-Vernonia Trail Starts in Banks but has a few other staging areas, with the Maning trail head just off HWY26 being a great spot to start your ride.

Banks-Vernonia State trail

LL Stub Stewart Park

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