The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway traces a beautiful, twisting 20-mile course from Athens to Nelsonville along the Hocking River. The rail-trail draws its name from the ancient Adena Indians who lived in this area and called the Hocking, a tributary of the Ohio River, "Hockhocking" or "bottle river" for the tapered bottleneck shape of this river valley in southeast Ohio.
The trail is on a canal towpath-turned-railroad corridor that was sufficiently flood damaged in the late 1800s to halt rail service forever. Today the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is a heavily used rail-trail linking Ohio University with Hocking College and communities in between.
From the southern trailhead on the Ohio University campus in Athens, the trail begins with 1.5 miles of commercial convenience: many different stores connect to the bikeway, making it a popular venue for college students and shopping. There are three access points to the popular Athens Community Center, which has restrooms, a swimming pool, a volleyball court, tennis courts and a skate park. The trail then connects to the Ohio University bikeway. The path, like the school, borders the Hocking River, part of the reason behind Ohio University's "Harvard on the Hocking" nickname.
Over the next couple miles, the Hockhocking Adena trail crosses a golf course and passes the Athens Public Library, residence dorms, O'Bleness Hospital, a state mental health facility and numerous athletic fields and stadiums. Upon leaving the Ohio University campus, the trail passes a Habitat for Humanity building that provides public restrooms. The trail then crosses to the west bank of the Hocking River, and things slow down. In 2.5 miles a short spur trail connects to Eclipse, a former coal-mining town, which has a restaurant that is usually open for dinner. Many of the miner's homes have been renovated, and the old company store is still standing.
Back on the rail-trail you wind through rolling Appalachian foothills, the dense woods of Wayne National Forest, wetlands and occasional fields and along the meandering river. In the spring, the wildflowers in the forested areas provide an ever-changing, colorful panorama. Deer are abundant, and you may see raccoons amble across your path as well.
Near mile 10 is the Beaumont (also called Salinas) rest area. An early 1900s coal and salt-mining town once stood here; look for the remains of the mines that produced salt and coal. The remaining 6.5 miles is classic Appalachia, as you travel along the Hocking River and pass through a portion of the Wayne National Forest. The trailhead on the Hocking College campus in Nelsonville features a spur of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad, so you can cap off your rail-trail excursion with a ride on the rails. Courtesy of a recently awarded State of Ohio grant, the bikeway continues from Hocking College just over 1 mile into downtown Nelsonville.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the trailhead on the Ohio University-Athens campus: Take the State Street Exit east from SR 33 in Athens. The main trailhead will be on the right in 1.75 miles.
To access the Robbin's Crossing trailhead at Hocking College: From SR 33 just south of Nelsonville, turn right on SR 691. Continue 500 feet to Hocking Parkway, turn right and continue for 0.5 mile. Turn left on Robbin's Crossing to the trailhead.