“A somewhat rough and rowdy rail-to-trail that starts in Scappoose and climbs towards Vernonia.”
— Brock Warner
Although the path is a near constant uphill grade, it's not very steep and the path is fairly smooth and lacks any substantial obstacles. Good for young ones to get familiar with gravel and dirt.
This rail-to-trail runs through and very near a lot of private property, despite the actual trail being public property. You'll pass several signs designating it. This is especially important in the northwestern-most section, which goes through a timber lot owned by the Weyerhaeuser logging company. Be respectful and stay on the well-marked trail.
Need to Know
There is a small pull out
at the beginning of the trail with room for two cars; it requires riding on the street for one stretch and crossing (busy) HWY 30.
The best parking, with room for a dozen or so cars, can be found here
and is the recommended start.
The Crown Zellerbach Trail (CZT) is an old rail-to-trail, starting in Scappoose and climbing across the Nehalem Divide to Vernonia. In the eastern section, the path is a patchwork of smooth and broken pavement. As the trail winds deeper west, the pavement become more broken and sparse before it disappears entirely, and the rest of the trail is gravel.
The CZT isn't much for fancy trailheads; it begins and ends unceremoniously. But there are trailheads along the way that can provide adequate parking. The trail starts in Scappoose with only a small pull-over parking space and a short foot trail to the start of the paved route. Nearly four miles into the CZT is the first large, easy-to-find parking area, on the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway.
For several miles, the trail closely follows the highway as it heads west. Eventually, the trail breaks away from the highway and goes deeper into the forest. This heralds the start of a long, steady climb to the Nehalem Divide. At the top of the Divide, the trail begins an equally long and steady descent. This is a nice reward for all of that climbing; it's a nice, long, steady downhill.
The trail on the western side of the Divide is quite pleasant. With no more asphalt around, it becomes a classic gravel doubletrack road. There are fewer reminders of the civilized world on this leg of the trail, and the flat grade makes for easy pedaling.
Eventually the trail nears a large meadow. At the far end of the meadow is a vital junction with a road to the left. A chain-linked fence around a gas meter and an abandoned trail kiosk mark this junction. The CZT continues to the left. While this is pretty obvious because of the signs, what is NOT obvious is that proceeding straight forward on what you've been riding thus far is actually trespassing on logging land. So turn left and cross the creek.
The CZT soon crosses the highway yet again and is guarded by a gate. Don't worry, the gate is for cars, not people. Immediately after the gate the road begins a steep climb to the top of the ridge. This section runs through Weyerhaeuser logging land. Follow the signs and stay on the road, all other spurs result in trespassing. It will start to descend steeply after a while and the road gets very rough and primitive.
At the bottom the CZT ends at the end of Knott Street. This short road leads to Highway 47. Turning left leads to Vernonia. Ride the Banks-Vernonia State Trail
to Banks to really rack up the miles!