Submitted By: William
The Manning Trailhead is just off Highway 26 on Pihl Rd. about 25 miles west of Portland. To reach the Buxton Trailhead continue a little further west on Highway 26 and turn right on NW Fisher Rd. which becomes Bacona Rd. the Buxton Trailhead is a little over a mile from the highway on Bacona Rd. The Tophill Trailhead is about seven miles north of the Buxton Trailhead on the Nehalem Highway. The Beaver Trailhead is another four miles north of Tophill. And Vernonia is another five miles after that.
Between the towns of Banks and Vernonia, Oregon an old railroad grade has been converted to a 20+ mile hiking and biking trail. Highlights of this trail are the small rural farms and towns, old railroad trestles, beautiful creeks and miles and miles of forested trail. The grade is consistent, climbing gradually to Tophill and descending gradually to the town of Vernonia. There are several trailheads providing access to different points along the trail, none require a parking permit.
The closest trailhead to Portland is the Manning Trailhead. From here you can go south, along farm land, for about four miles where the trail ends just a short distance from Banks. To go north follow Pongratz Road for a mile to a paved trail on the right. It is about 1.5 miles to the Buxton Trailhead and the Buxton Trestle.
From the Buxton Trailhead it is five miles on a gravel path to the Tophill Trailhead. This section of the trail is far enough away from the highway that the traffic noise is not noticeable. On one of the many short side trails that parallel the main trail you will find more remnants of railroad trestles. About a mile from the Buxton Trailhead is a small picnic area with tables. As you approach the Tophill Trailhead the trail descends steeply for about a hundred yards to the parking area. Here you will find the Horseshoe Trestle.
Cross the highway and again climb steeply to the railroad grade. After about a mile the path becomes paved again. It is about 3.5 miles to the Beaver Creek Trailhead from Tophill.
From the Beaver Creek Trailhead it is about 4.5 miles to Anderson Park in Vernonia, the official end of the Banks/Vernonia State Trail. However, if you continue to follow the paved trail a couple miles you will come to Vernonia Lake (aka Mill Pond) on the east edge of town.Parking at Vernonia Lake requires a small parking fee.
For a map of the trail go to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail website at
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We enjoyed this trail last weekend! This trail has many little side trails to explore. Excellent picnic areas (we picnicked by a pond in the cool shade). Watch out for horses and bikers on nice days (it was in the 80's when we went). It's nice that the path has enough room for several types of outdoor enthusiasts to pass each other at the same time.
A fun trail to explore, and good for the entire family.