Where the railroad once was king, the woods now reign again. A century ago, this railway made life better and easier for early Oregonians and the burgeoning lumber industry that fueled their prosperity in the northwest corner of the state. But while the trains are long gone and their tracks dismantled, the path they carved through the wilderness remains, having since been put to splendid use. The Banks-Vernonia State Trail (BVT) stands today as Oregon’s first rail-to-trail, and the space once allotted for the Industrial Age’s biggest, most propulsive machines has been handed back over to nature – and to you.
The Banks-Vernonia Trail, a multi-use trail paved over a decades-old train bed, allows the walker, jogger, biker or mounted rider the chance to catch a whiff of Oregon history while delighting in the forest’s renewed splendor. 21 miles of tree-lined, easy-grade pathway conducts you through sun-dappled glades and across swift, clear streams, filling your nose with wildflower scents and your ears with the songs of birds. 13 old bridges, wooden trestles rise up to acquaint you with days of the past. And at a mere 26 miles west of Portland, all this peaceful, quiet, natural beauty awaits you right down the road.
The Banks-Vernonia Trail can be accessed at any of 6 points along its progression – including trailheads at Manning, Buxton, Tophill, and Beaver Creek, as well as at Banks and Vernonia themselves – and permits only non-motorized use at a safe, slow speed. Precisely the opposite, ironically, of the trains that once ran there. Nature has a way of making things come full circle, a theory proved in lovely, pastoral abundance by a rail-to-trail like the BVT. Visit today and see just how much good those old railroads are still doing – for Oregon, for the forest itself and (especially) for you.