This out and back trip along the Western Reserve Greenway bicycle trail is approximately 40 miles in one direction, between the town of Austinburg, to the north in Ashtabula county, to Mosquito Lake State Park in the south in Trumball county. The trail is flat and smooth and there is only a short four mile section of road riding to the campground along SR.305 and County Highway 203. The trail is mostly shaded, but there were some parts out in the open, mostly through corn fields.
Starting from the north in Austinburg:
Trail head parking can be found on the north side of RT. 305, just a few hundred feet east of RT. 45. The gravel lot is very unassuming, situated right beside a small convenience store and behind Jewel’s Dance Hall. If you are parking overnight, it is best to park in the back of the lot, closest to the port-o-potty.
Head south on the trail. It is flat, smooth and straight. It is also very secluded. There are no obvious places that we saw where you can get water along the entire trail, so bring plenty.
At the Village of Rock Creek, the trail takes a slight, one block (3/8 mile) detour to the west. The giant Rock Creek water tower makes an excellent landmark.
From the north: the trail ends and there was a Bike Route sign pointing to the right (west), down a road. Straight ahead is the water tower. Turn right. On the left is a small Custom motorcycle shop. Continue down the road and make a left at the first road. It was marked. It’s more of a gravel area between two roads than an actually road. The gravel road is just a connector between the two streets and dead ends at either. You can see from one street to the other. Turn left onto the next paved street and pedal down to the water tower. Turn right back onto the trail.
From the south: there is no signage indicating where to turn to continue on the trail. The trail ends at a plant with the water tower right in front of you. Turn left on the street and ride down the hill. At the bottom of the hill is the gravel patch to your right. Turn right and go up the gravel road. Turn right onto the next street. Just past the motorcycle shop on your right, you will turn left back onto the trail. Again, use the water tower to keep your bearings.
South of the town of Rock Creek is Rock Creek itself. You will cross over it on a high railroad trestle. It’s pretty scenic and there is a viewing deck off to the side. The path across the bridge is covered in some sort of leather or vinyl or something. It’s a nice place for a quick rest stop.
The town of Orwell is situated along RT. 322, about a mile and a half west of the trail. There are no signs at the road crossing that tells you so. Orwell is roughly the halfway point and there is a grocery store, library and several small restaurants, including the A&W that we ate at. It has free wifi and there are actually about 4 or 5 restaurants under the same roof. Just roll down 322 and you will see the signs. Remember, 322 is a State Route and the traffic is in the 50 mph range, so this is for intermediate riders with at least some experience with traffic, but it’s a piece of cake if you are used to this sort of road riding.
South of Orwell is the Trumball county line. At this point, the trail actually improves! The trail is seal coated!
Soon after entering Trumball, you will be riding through the Ohio State Mosquito Lake Wildlife Management Area where even the scenery gets better! There is a nice observation deck on the west side of the trail that makes for a very scenic rest spot. Great views!
Continue pedaling south until you get to RT. 305. There is a new trail head parking lot and picnic tables there. They were still working on it when we came by. the tables were under a shelter and we waited out some rain there. We saw no water and the toilet appears to be just a port-o-potty. We talked to a construction guy and he said there was no plan for anything better. It’s a shame, it’s such a nice trail head.
Turn left onto Rt. 305, heading east. Again, this is a State Route and the traffic is in the 50 mph range. Continue east down 305 for about 3 1/2 miles. You will pass a pizza shop/beer store (Carter’s) on your left. They say they will deliver to the campgrounds. Just past the beer store is County Road 203. There is a traffic light and an ice cream shop (Grumpy’s Station) on the corner. Turn left, north, on 203. The campground is about 1/2 up on the right, or east side of the road. Just across from the park’s entrance is a small, dingy convenience store. They have beer. Top shelf was Great Lakes. The campsites themselves are less than a half mile from the road (and convenience store). This is nice, since some state campgrounds have an entrance road that is miles long.
Camping at Mosquito Lake State Park is much like camping at any other large state park in Ohio. There are plenty of open and wooded sites (234), with and without electric. Sites without were $20, sites with were $24. The front office has coffee in the morning. Remember, it’s a state campground, so alcohol is not allowed. Use a cup. There are showers and a small laundering facility and a concession stand at the marina with burgers and such. There is boating and a beach, too.
This is a great overnight trip and can easily be shorter or a little longer, depending on which trail head you park at, as there are quite a few along the entire route, at nearly every cross road. Some are nicer than others, with some being nothing more than a very un-official looking gravel patch for maybe two cars.
More information and ideas on the Western Reserve Greenway
There is great potential for combining the Western Reserve Greenway with bicycle road routes and other bicycle trails to create loops for bicycle touring and camping. The Western Reserve Greenway is a rail trail on the the former PennCentral line. The dream is to connect Lake Erie and the Ohio River. The 43 mile paved trail begins in Ashtabula and ends at Champion just north of Warren.
Our original plan was to do a 3 night tour but we adjusted to an overnight due to weather and a broken camp stove.
We chose the Austinburg trail head because it is close to I-90. The rough plan was night one at Mosquito Lake State Park; Night two at Pymatuning Lake State Park; night three at Virginia’s Beach in Conneut then back to Austinburg. We also considered making a loop by using the Western Reserve Greenway to connect with the southern end of the Summit County Bike and Hike Trail in Kent or to get to Akron to access the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. There are also biycle trails that could be combined with the Western Reserve Greenway that connect to Chardon and Painesville.
The landscape around the Western Reserve Greenway in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties was very flat and very rural. The roads varied from 2 lane 55 mph state route to gravel. Hopefully we get back out to this area soon to do some more tour fact finding. Stay tuned.