Hiking a Coastal Mountains’ Rail-Trail

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Hares Canyon Trail

It was cool, rainy and foggy day. I decided to “revel” in the rain by hiking along the Banks–Vernonia State Trail, a rail-trail and linear state park. And just to make it interesting, I would add a loop on trails to the east.

The Banks–Vernonia rail-trail runs primarily north-south on an abandoned railroad bed. The entire 21-mile, eight-foot wide rail-trail is paved. The original railway line was built in the 1920s to move logs and lumber from a company mill in Vernonia, as well as freight and passengers to Portland.

In 2007 the L.L. “Stub” Stewart Memorial State Park opened adjacent to a segment of the rail-trail.

My starting point was a rest area by the old Buxton Railroad Trestle, which is 600 feet long and 80 feet high. I began by walking across the planked trestle.

Continuing north, I followed the paved rail-trail for several miles before entering the Stub Stewart Park. Soon afterwards the Hares Canyon Trail took off to the northeast. For the next three miles I meandered mostly uphill, sorting through a variety of side trails and old logging roads. Few folks had been on the trail recently, but deer had been crossing the area frequently.

Finally the Clayhill Horse Staging Area was reached. A good place for a rest break and a snack. Then it was a steep downhill hike through the mud to the rail-trail, passing several beaver ponds along the way.

The remaining 3 ½ mile return hike to the Buxton Trestle was uneventful, and more and more wet as the rain picked up.

Mushrooms (Apricot Jellies?)

Buxton Trestle in the early morning light


Blacktail Deer track

Which fork to take?

Rough-skinned Newt (master of camouflage)

Buxton Trestle

Small pond along the trail

Categories: Oregon Coastal Mountain HikingTags: , , , ,


  1. Those are some weird looking mushrooms.

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