Ride This! Vernonia Century

This is one of those rides; a staple or a “classic” of the area. On the longer side, but a perfect mid to late season ride when fitness is high. The Vernonia Century has well paced climbs with 6000ft over 115miles, provides some good ups, some nice descents and flats. With a mixture of amazing Oregon scenery , food / water stops in the right places routing through multiple small unique Oregon towns and Oh, and the deal sealer.. you can ride it from your door.

Mileage: 117 Miles
Elevation 6,000ft
Terrain: Road
Bicycle: Road bike 23-28c

I found this ride 7 years ago and have ridden it at least once every year, some years 2 or 3 times. It’s easy to follow and hard to get lost. It has a few challenging climbs and the last 15miles are flat, dull and efficient in a refreshing end to a long ride sort of way, no stupid large climbs at the end.

The route is a big loop and can be ridden either direction,  I like the clockwise direction the best, starts with a climb and because it’s early when you have to start the ride, the climb is a welcomed warmer.

Cornel Tunnel
A Brisk start with a climb up Cornell Rd through the beautiful forests to Skyline
Skyline rd
Rollers and escaping the city and suburbs. Skyline Rd
A turn onto Phillips rd opens out the landscape for some pastoral views and animals!
dierdorff gravel
The 1/4 mile section of light gravel on Dierdorf leads to some funny roadside attractions
Sign says “Slow down & live longer” on Dierdorf
The neighbors have a good sense of humor with these crafty roadside attractions
West Union
West Union Rd, flat, open and the feeling of escape.
mountaindale rd
Flowers on Mountaindale just after crossing highway 26
Clapshaw Hill Rd
Clapshway Hill road goes up, and right on the side is a cool 1887 Cemetery
Timber Rd
Timber Rd has a consistent up, before the actual town of Timber, but these roads are amazing.
Timber Post office
Buildings with character, Timber Post office. Unfortunately there are no services here. Nearby is a campground called Reheers Camp where water can be found.
Timber Rd
Still on Timber Rd you cross highway 26 again
Nahalem river
Nahalem river taken close to the end of Timber Rd
Just outside of vernonia
A few miles just outside of Vernonia on 47
Nahalem river crossing
Nahalem river crossing off of hwy 47
secret man made fall
path to Bonnie Falls
secret man made fall
Bonnie Falls
Bonnie Falls
not my photo, but some dude railing down Bonnie Falls
The road back into Portland is along side fast vehicles, but a flat and a wide shoulder to ride for the most part makes it okay. At certain times of the year there is a tendency for debris, so watch out.
Scappoose golf club
The road back to Portland is surrounded by a few gems, on the right the immaculate landscaped area of Scappoose golf club can be seen from the route
st johns bridge
st johns bridge, you can ride on the sidewalk or the road, if you are going to stop for pictures, which I suggest, then ride the sidewalk as there is no way to switch due to a high curb
Portland from St Johns Bridge
Great views of Portland from St Johns Bridge

Food Stops, Services and Points of Interest (Heading clockwise route)

North Plains (mile 25)

After experiencing Skyline rd the small town creeps up fast and is just North of Hillsboro. It’s pretty agricultural and has a small market store if you need it, you probably won’t as it’s at mile 25. But it’s good to know it is there.

Hillside (mile 38)

After crossing Hwy 26, you will come across Hillside, a stop sign town with a small church Hillside, no food services here, but beautiful roads and views from Clapshaw Hill Road

Pioneer Cemetery (mile 38)

On Clapshaw Hill rd, a small Pioneer cemetery since 1887, with a great view of the hills to the South.

Pre Timber Stop (mile 42)

Might be wise to note this stop. You may need this depending on temperature of your ride and other stops you have taken. On Hwy 47,  just after Gales Creek, area there is an Esso gas station at the left side of the road. Pretty basic offerings snack and liquids. This will get you through to Vernonia

Timber (mile 51)

A quaint single-stop-sign town. Unincorporated just over 100 people live here, No services. Quintessential post office and fire station worthy of pictures.

Vernonia (mile 66)

This small town incorporated in 1876 and should have been “Vernona”, but a clerical error added the i. Now Vernonia. Logging had a large impact on this town and now the farming community has about 2000 residents.
Tons of options here for food, there are a few sit down cafes, a grocery market and a gas station. The popular sit down place with cyclists is the Black Iron Grill on the main street. Bike racks are there and a ton of outdoor seating. On a ride like this I prefer to eat the inexpensive high fat, high carb from the hot case of the gas station. This is also on Main Street,a little further down as if you are leaving the town, they welcome cyclists and have tables and large glass windows so if you are solo you can easily see your bike.

Bonnie Falls (mile 88)

Just to the side of the road, surrounded by rock face is a small man made waterfall. A good point to pull off and eat a snack or check the map.

Pre Scappoose Stop (mile 90.5)

Tucked in on the right hand side on the descent of highway 47 right before coming to Scappoose there is Sacappoose Market, I have stopped here a few times, but I prefer to keep my bike momentum and roll through to the next stop in Scappoose.

Scappoose (mile 92)

With about 7,000 people, Scappoose is a small town based along the busy highway – US30 that runs to St Helens. The bike ride route goes past many places to stop and grab supplies from gas stations to supermarkets. I tend to make a quick stop at the Chevron station at mile marker 92.6, fast and easy for my purposes.

My Ride & Gear

It was 58 degrees and windy when I rode this, I was a little chilly and fighting wind at times, I felt like I was burning a lot of calories. No rain all dry, breaks of sun where I took pictures but somewhat overcast for the rest of the time.

Road Conditions
All smooth pavement, other than 0.2 miles of gravel, a little larger than pea gravel. This can easiliy be navigated around if you don’t want to tackle. The majority of the roads are lower traffic, some with minimal shoulder and the only higher traffic road has a very wide shoulder. Traffic has never been an issue on this route.

Carried with me 2 Probar Meals, 1 peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, 1 bag of Probar blocks
Eaten in Vernonia – fresh from the hot case: 1 Fried beef and bean burrito, 1 fried bean and cheese burrito, 1 serving of potato jo ho’s

2 20oz bottles on the bike with Skratchlabs mix. Refill for water in Vernonia added Skratchlabs, 1 can of coke in Vernonia, 1 bottle drunk while eating

1 flat tyre, 1 failing valve stem!

3 thoughts on “Ride This! Vernonia Century

Add yours

  1. Hi, thanks for this ride, I did it yesterday. It is a pretty efficient ride in the sense that it is beautiful, has variation, and probably most important, the stops and re-fill opportunities are well positioned. The road between North Plains all the way up to Vernonia was really nice. Leaving Vernonia over Hw 47 was a bit crowded when I passed there (halfway the afternoon) but the decent on the Vernonia – Scappoose Hw was absolutely amazing. Once you are in Scappoose and on the Hw to Portland it is indeed… dull and busy but with a wide shoulder. Just efficient to get back to Portland quickly. Advice: It is a long day though… so leave early enough.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Philippe, I agree with you, the 4 mile section that comes out of Vernonia on 47 can be traffic busy. A lot depends on the time of day. I haven’t found a good way around that section yet and 4 miles I can put up with. Just a note for a future ride, you can make the Hwy 30 section more interesting by cutting up into the hills, this makes a much bigger day though in elevation and length. I have gone up Rocky Point road a few times, which means you only stay on Hwy 30 for 3.5miles, but with 93miles on the legs already, that climb up Rocky Point can be proper scorcher. 🙂 Thanks

      1. Ah, that is kind of what I did. I went a bit further on Hwy 30 from Scappoose and then went up on Logie Trail Rd to Skyline. Probably a nice climb early in the day but a real killer after 95 miles… 🙂

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