It was my last day in The Tualatin Valley of Oregon, courtesy of The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA),* and I was looking forward to a cycling adventure on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. The Banks-Vernonia State Trail is one of Oregon’s Regional Trails and runs 21 miles through open glades of green, pine-scented forests and babbling streams.
Breakfast At The Trailhead Cafe
“We’re having breakfast at the Trailhead Café,” Jackie, a member of the WCVA team, said. “It’s a perfect place for fueling up before a ride or relaxing after one.” It was a short drive from my lodging at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. We met Ariel, her colleague, who would be my riding companion.
The Trailhead Café is a cute eatery near the trail. It specializes in made-to-order wraps, salads and panninis for lunch and boasts a selection of pastries, eggs and coffees for breakfast. My egg sandwich was quite yummy.
Getting Fitted For A Bicycle
We stopped at Banks Bicycles to be fitted for bicycles. The shop, which rents and repairs bicycles, is run by a lovely couple, Len, a former tool and dye maker, and Diane, who is called the dancing bicycle mechanic, as she teaches dance next door to the shop. The two have been married for 52 years, adopted and raised 9 kids, and have 32 grandchildren!
They measured my inseam and height and made sure I was properly fitted for my bicycle and helmet. They even showed me the proper way to get on and off a bicycle to prevent any injuries.
“People come from China, Australia, Russia, and more lands to ride on these trails,” Len said. Jackie noted that “these are some of the most ridden trails and accessible to all ages.” A big project is being worked on that may eventually connect this area with the Oregon coast.
A Beautiful Ride On The Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Our feet hit the pedals and off we went. It was so freeing and relaxing. We rode under the pine trees ducking our heads for cover. We waved to hikers and runners as they passed by. We traveled up and down hills, listening to the crackling noises as our wheels crushed dried leaves. We viewed some of the area’s best wildflowers in the open meadows and saw wildlife, cows, roosters, and pigs at farms along the way.
We biked 7 miles to the trustle (a former train track) that was turned into a bridge on the trail, stopped to take pictures, and decided it was time to head back. Not having ridden this much in a long, long time, I was glad my post 50 legs and buttocks braved the bumps on the 7 mile return. I praised Len and Diane for how comfortable their seats are on their refurbished bikes.
Lunch at Helvetia Tavern
Having burned hefty calories on my bicycle ride, I was hungry for lunch at the Helvetia Tavern. Helvetia is a small farming community with strong roots and a quirky tavern known for its burgers. “The Helvetia Tavern is the ‘home of the jumbo burger.’ We’d call it a hidden gem, but the secret is out as people from all over the state come to the small watering hole for their legendary burgers,” Jackie said.
We shared burgers, fries and onion rings. Everything was so good, so good, so good.
Paving the Way To Portland
It had been a glorious three days in The Tualatin Valley. I was sad to leave, but told Jackie and Ariel that I definitely plan to visit again. “Next time I’m going to ride the entire 21 miles of the Banks-Vernonia Trail,” I said. “This is such a great place to vacation. Great sites to see, great things to do for every age group, good food and good wines.” I was really glad I came.
Better yet, The Tualatin Valley is only about a 45 minute drive from the city. By early evening, I was settled in at my artsy suite in the hip and cool Inn@Northrup Station, located minutes from downtown Portland.
Coming soon: I’m going to take you on my whirlwind two day tour of Portland. Best ever donuts, food trucks, restaurants, coffee shops, cideries, farmers markets, and more. Plus Powell’s bookstore and the magnificent Rose Garden. North, south, east, west – a visit to Portland is absolutely not to be missed.
P.S. In case you want to read my other blog posts about The Tualatin Valley, you can find them here:
♥ Exploring The Great Outdoors In The Tualatin Valley
♥ Enjoying A Day of Tasting and Touring in The Tualatin Valley
*Disclosure of Material Connection: The Washington County Visitors Association sponsored my trip to The Tualatin Valley. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.