The ride begins right on the Urban Growth Boundary and heads immediately into the West Hills via one of my favorite no-traffic climbs on Rock Creek Road. After a quick info control, you'll cross Skyline and descend Logie Trail. PLEASE USE CAUTION. This is a steep twisty descent. If the road is wet, it can be dangerous.
After 11 miles on Hwy 30 (very wide shoulder), you'll turn off onto quieter roads that lead to the Old Towne area of St. Helens. St. Helens is an open control, however, I recommend you follow the suggestion on the cue sheet and visit Good Things, which is 2 blocks off course on S 1st. It's a cute little cafe run by an older couple. All the treats are homemade, the coffee is hot, and the murals newly painted on the wall are entertaining.
If you choose not to go to Good Things, you'll find a small market at the corner of West St & Deer Island Rd at mile 27.1.
Soon you will find yourself back on Hwy 30 for 17 miles. While Hwy 30 is not my favorite road to ride, this far north the traffic has decreased significantly and the shoulder is still decent. I promise that the rest of the ride makes up for this 17 miles stretch. :-)
At mile 45, you'll find yourself in Rainer. If you are low on water or supplies, buy something here, as there are no services until mile 63, with some climbing in between.
Old Rainier Rd has a good 2 mile climb on it, but almost zero traffic. You'll find an info control at the top to keep you honest.
After descending back to Hwy 30 for your final 1.5 miles on that road (yay!), you'll turn off and head out Beaver Falls Rd. This is a gem of a road. Very low traffic, pretty scenery and of course, the Falls. The falls will be on your LEFT and not visible from the right side of the road as you descend. I highly recommend taking the extra minute to coast into the car pullout on the left to take a look at them.
You'll find another info control on Beaver Falls Rd.
Stock up on food and water in Clatskanie. It is not a control, but it's your last chance for water, food or a bathroom until after a very long climb into the Coast Range. There's a convenience store in Clatskanie at the corner of Hwy 30 at mile 63.5.
You'll climb the Mist-Clastskanie Hwy up over 1300 feet. The descent can be chilly, so be sure to have a jacket. There's very little traffic on this climb, so you'll have nothing to distract you from your heavy breathing. There's also a false summit, so don't get your hopes up too quickly.
After descending, you'll ride the (mostly) flat Highway 47 heading towards Vernonia. If your bladder is about to bust, or you are out of water, take a stop at the bathrooms at Big Eddy Park at mile 83.
Vernonia is an open control. If you have time in the bank, stop at Black Bear Coffee Company on the left. There's also a Subway and a minimart if you want to be in and out more quickly, or are short on time.
After Vernonia, you will spend the next 20 miles riding the iconic Banks-Vernonia Linear Trail. As you ascend, you'll find find yourself in areas of fairy tale forest that will surely not disappoint. Have your camera handy. The descent is even better. Smooth, gorgeous, and with little bike or ped traffic in the evenings. Do use caution on the switchback near the crossing of Hwy 47. From November to March, you may well find yourself riding this in the dark. Please use caution, as there is NO lighting on the trail and, especially near Vernonia) there are areas where roots have caused the trail to heave a bit. Use extra caution on the wooden bridges which are slippery when wet, and beware that some of the bridge/trail intersections are bumpy. Finally, you will cross a few small roads that have gravel right at the trail's edge, so please remain vigilent.
Banks is also an open control. There's a Thriftway on the left as you exit town. The Espresso stand in the parking lot has good mochas, and will hand write a receipt for you.
After that, it's mostly flat, very familiar back roads to the finish.
I live just a few blocks from the start/finish, so you're welcome to give my cell a call and see if I am around. My # is at the bottom of the cue sheet. If I'm around (a.k.a. not out riding somewhere myself!), I can meet you to collect your cards.
Have a great ride!