Many people have been asking me about The Ohio to Erie Trail so I will provide a little background and some details. The trail was founded by Ed Honton in 1991. The trail spans the state of Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland following lands formerly owned by railroads and canals that have been converted to bicycle trails. The Ohio to Erie Trail is a route that utilizes existing trails and the organization is working to close the gaps to achieve the dream of a cross state off road route for non-motorized transportation. The route is nearly complete and new sections of trail are scheduled to be paved this summer and next year. My estimate is the route is 85% on trail and 15% road.
Traveling south from Cleveland the trail follows the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and continues through Akron, Barberton, Canal Fulton and Massilon. Here the towpath continues south but the Ohio to Erie Trail turns west to follow the Sippo Vally Trail which takes you to Dalton. Here you switch to a road route that is rolling hills through Amish country. It is a beautiful route with fabulous views but was very challenging, especially for us as it was over 90 degrees and windy. It took us two and one half hours to reach Fredicksburg which is the northern trail head for the Holmes County Trail which travels through Holmesville, Millersburg, and ends at Killbuck. (see link below) Here you go back on the road and are faced with some seriously steep hills following County Road 6 and US Route 62. This section is tough but luckily it was cool and cloudy the day we did it. This section is on the schedule to be paved trail which will eliminate the steep climbs. The off road route route picks up in Brinkhaven at the Bridge of Dreams and follows the Mohican Valley Trail which is dirt. I hope they pave this someday. As an alternate to the dirt trail stay on US 62 to Danville where you pick up the Kokosing Gap Trail which is paved and perfect with lots to see and takes you through Gambier and ends in Mt Vernon. Out of Mt Vernon you follow Route 3 /36 for about 5 miles until you reach the paved portions of the Heart of Ohio Trail which is scenic and smooth and takes you into Centerburg. (note: as of July 2013, there are now two sections of paved Trail, please send an e-mail to request more information for the trail access from Columbus Road.) In Centerburg you go back on the road again but now it is all flat and smooth and quiet back country roads that take you to Sunbury where you pick up the old route 3 bike trail that takes you into Columbus. Here it is rider’s choice to follow the Alum Creek Trail through the park or the bikeway through the quaint town of Westerville. Then you are back on the road to follow to Shrock Road past the Budweiser plant to pick up the Olentangy River Trail south through Columbus. This section will eventually be re-routed to follow Alum Creek. At the south end of Columbus you leave the trail system and head west on Broad Street, Rt 40, to get to Galloway Road which takes you south to the Battelle Darby Creek Metroparks. One day the Rt 40 section will be replaced by paved trail. The paved Camp Chase Trail starts at Georgesville and continues through Lily Chapel and into London on Roberts Pass. The route proceeds southwest on the Prairie Grass Trail to South Charelston, Cedarville and finally into Xenia. There is a trail head in Xenia that provides access to many bike trails going in all directions as it is the old railroad hub. Here the Ohio to Erie Trail picks up the Little Miami Scenic Trail which is my favorite part—shady and smooth and quiet. The trail continues south through quaint towns and scenic views through Corwin, Morrow, Loveland, Milford and finally to the trail’s end in Newtown. One day the trail will continue into downtown Cincinnati. Guy and I headed west on Wooster Pike to Marriemont where we picked up Erie Street to climb out of the river valley into Hyde Park, our destination. (In 2013 we rode all the way to downtown to tire dip in the Ohio River. Details are published in The IGotaBike Ohio To Erie Trail Guide.)
It should be noted that when we departed Cleveland we chose to use The Bike and Hike Trail which parallels the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail up on the ridge top. This is a paved trail that follows the old electric train route that once took passengers to and from Akron to Cleveland. There are new updates to the Bike and Hike Trail that provide switchbacks to avoid the dangerous and steep road near the Brandywine Falls and there is a new tunnel to go under I-77 and a new bridge to go over I-80. Using this trail we had access to hotels in Stow and then we went down the big hill past Blossom Music Center to pick up the official Ohio to Erie Trail as it follows the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail which is crushed limestone. This is our home turf and we have ridden the towpath many many times. If you only have one chance to get through this area use the towpath as it passes through Bald Eagle nesting sites, beaver dams, working locks, a canal boat museum and blue herons and hawks are everywhere. It is spectacular. Another option in this area is to utilize the Cuyahoga Scenic Valley Railroad. With a bicycle the fair for you and your bike is only $3, seasonal, Wed-Sun.
When we leave Cincinnati we will retrace our “steps” and head north on the Little Miami Scenic Trail to Xenia. Here we will leave the Ohio to Erie Trail and head west to enjoy the fabulous trails of the Miami Valley. We will pick up the Creekside Trail in Xenia which will take us west in to Dayton. Our destination is the Tall Timbers KOA in Brookville, Ohio. We are still debating our route. The Wolf Creek Trail is the most direct way but we have had trouble in this area in the past with lots of glass and flat tires. The alternative is to go north out of Dayton on the Great Miami River Trail and cut across Route 40. (see links below)
After a few days at Tall Timbers we will work our way back to The Ohio to Erie Trail, to get back to Cleveland. We are considering a few alternate ideas to avoid some tough spots. You will need to stay tuned to see where we go and how we get there. We need to be back in Cleveland 2 weeks from today and would like to be in Millersburg for the annual Holmes County Trail Auction on June 9.
See my hand drawn map. I promise the “real” map will be better. All this is from memory—corrections and comments are welcome.