Caution: The Olentangy Trail is currently closed between Worthington Hills Park and Olentangy River Parklands at Wilson Bridge Road. This section is scheduled to reopen some time in 2017. Refer to dot.state.oh.us for detailed directions to detour around this area. Note that this is only recommended for experienced cyclists.
The Olentangy Trail picks up near the north end of the Scioto Greenway Trail, heading 13 miles north through several parks and Ohio State University. Portions of the trail are rough going, but for the most part it is serene and scenic.
From Confluence Park, head north and use the crosswalk at Dublin Road. Once across the road, the trail travels north on the west side of the Olentangy River. At some points the trail is very close to the river, and flood warnings are posted. After passing under several highways, the trail becomes quieter, meandering along the river bank under light tree cover. The sound of flowing water drowns out some of the city noise.
At Third Street, a bridge takes you to the east side of the river, and at Fifth Avenue you must choose between a lower trail along the river bank or an upper trail with access to Fifth Avenue and part of the Ohio State University campus. Between Fifth and King avenues there is an overlook with a large concrete deck jutting over the river edge; check it out for a good look at the lowhead dam spanning the river there.
Through campus—roughly 1 mile—you may want to dismount if traveling by bike and walk. A local landmark rises on the right side of the trail in this section. Ohio Stadium, or the Horseshoe, as locals call it, is the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. The trail then passes under the new Lane Avenue Bridge, a striking structure with an amazing cable-stayed design. The anchorages for the bridge cables are 47 tons each, making them the largest pieces of steel ever galvanized.
Unmarked neighborhood trails feed into the bikeway periodically. Near mile 4, the university's wetland research area flanks the west side of the route. Feel free to take a self-guided tour of the native plants and wetland habitat. A short stretch takes you on a well-marked route over city streets in Clintonville before you travel though Whetstone Park and the Park of Roses. Whetstone offers playgrounds, picnic pavilions, baseball fields, basketball courts and 136 acres of facilities and nature areas. The 11-acre Park of Roses is a park within a park, with more than 11,000 rose bushes.
Next, you return to the river's west edge via a wide sidewalk along the bridge at Henderson Road. You will soon arrive at Antrim Lake and Antrim Park. There is an excellent overlook on the lake, and a 1.2-mile loop trail around the lake is popular. A short trail connection takes you under the highway west to Antrim Park. A short time later you will cross back to the east side of the river at State Route 161 in Worthington via a highway bridge that has a bike pedestrian lane on the south side.
From the bridge it's another 3 miles to the end of the trail, with half of that distance coming between the State Route 161 bridge and Interstate 270. The scenery in this stretch is pleasant, traversing upriver among beautiful hardwoods. The imposing elevated lanes of Interstate 270 mark the final crossing of the river over a nicely constructed trail bridge.
After crossing underneath I-270, you have a 1-mile ride through a small section of forest and then on a narrow strip of land between the river and some of Worthington's development. A small circle of green grass with a nice gazebo greets you at the endpoint in Worthington Hills.
Until the completion of the Alum Creek Greenway Trail, a substantial portion of the Olentangy Trail is also a vital component of the Ohio to Erie Trail. The planned 320-mile route, of which over 240 miles are complete and open for use, will eventually span Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
To reach the northern trailhead in Worthington Hills Park, take Interstate 270 to State Route 315 north. Look for Worthington Hills Park on the right.
To reach the southern trailhead at Confluence Park, take Interstate 70 to SR 315, turn north 1 mile, and take the Dublin Road Exit. Turn left onto Dublin Road then almost an immediate left again onto North Souder Road. Take the first left onto Rickenbacker Drive. Confluence Park is at the end of this road about 0.25 mile.