What’s it like to ride around Tophill Trestle on the Banks-Vernonia Trail?

What’s it like to ride around Tophill Trestle on the Banks-Vernonia Trail?

Climbing the Tophill Trestle detour switchbacks. (Photos: Ted Timmons)

Climbing the Tophill Trestle detour switchbacks.
(Photos: Ted Timmons)

Last week we shared the news that the State of Oregon is considering a new bridge on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail across Highway 47. The old Tophill Trestle is damaged and needs to come down and a new online survey is asking users of the popular path if they’d support a plan to replace it with a new bridge.

The path currently detours off the old railroad right-of-way at Tophill with two big hills and lots of tight switchbacks down a canyon with an uncomfortable crossing of Highway 47 between them. So, what’s it like to ride the current route (which is really a detour because the trestle bridge is out of commission)?

BikePortland contributor/reader/subscriber Ted Timmons was out there last weekend and shares this report:

I happened to be headed there a few days later for my first bike-camping trip to Stub Stewart State Park, so I thought I’d share video of what it looks and feels like to use the detour.





The rider in front of me with the trailer is Jeremy Kitchen. While we are in the strong and fearless category, you can see other riders around who are less comfortable or able to climb the switchbacks, or taking a rest before doing so.

Clearly a bridge wouldn’t be cheap- but given the popularity of the trail, I think it would be worthwhile.

Here are a few more of Ted’s photos:

detour1

detour2

detour3

This winding and tough section of the path (which the state actually encourages people on bikes to walk up and down!) would be dramatically easier and more enjoyable if a new bridge went in. Our graphic below shows the route Ted and Jeremy took (in blue) and the route the trains took 100 years ago (in yellow).

(Graphic: Google Maps/BikePortland)

(Graphic: Google Maps/BikePortland)

You can take the Tophill Trestle survey here. Stay tuned for updates once the results are in.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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