The mileage slips by on the Slippery Elm Rail-Trail as you take in the flat, fast and scenic northwest Ohio countryside. The 13-mile paved path runs south from Bowling Green through the small town of Rudolph and finishes in North Baltimore. Its half-marathon length is ideal for runners in training, and the smooth surface is a joy for cyclists and inline skaters. Between Rudolph and the southern endpoint, expansive agricultural landscapes offer the quiet charm visitors have come to expect from this area of the country.
Start at the Sand Ridge Road Trailhead in Bowling Green and head south. After 1 mile the trail ducks under US Route 6. When you emerge on the other side the urban surroundings melt away and the countryside takes over.
With a keen eye and light foot (or wheels), you may catch sight of red-tail hawks, white-tail deer, red squirrels or the many birds found here. Be sure to take note of the unique terrain: as far as the eye can see the land hereas in much of northern Ohiois as flat as a pancake, thanks to the glaciers that moved south through Ohio, leveling everything in their path. This area used to be the Great Black Swamp, but by the mid-1800s the swamp was drained, leaving the rich, fertile farmland that now yields corn, soy beans and livestock.
As you pass through the small village of Rudolph you will encounter arguably one of the best signs you will ever see on a rail-trail: "Welcome to Rudolph, the Deerest little village in Wood County." There are restrooms and a trailhead in the village. After Rudolph you are about halfway along the trail. The southern half is extremely rural and quiet, with serene country vistas all the way to North Baltimore. At the endpoint there is a very nice playground and small park, a nice place for a picnic. Here, if you like, you can turn around and head back to Bowling Green.
If you do return to Bowling Green, be sure to take the time to explore this small college town. Bowling Green State University has more than 21,000 students and is among Ohio's top universities. Bowling Green itself is brimming with great little restaurants and cafes, and the shops in town make for fun exploring.
Parking and Trail Access
Access the Bowling Green trailhead by taking Interstate 75 to the Bowling Green Route 64/Wooster Street Exit. Head west on Wooster for 1.75 miles and turn south on S. Main Street. Continue on S. Main for just over 0.75 mile to Sand Ridge Road and head west 0.5 mile. Trail access is from the Montessori school on the left.
To reach the southern trailhead in North Baltimore, take I-75 to the North Baltimore Street/State Route 18 Exit west. Follow Route 18 just over 1 mile to S. Main Street, turn north and go for 0.75 mile. Turn onto East Broadway Street; the parking lot is on the left after 0.25 mile. This trailhead has parking and restroom facilities, as well as a playground.
Other access points include Gypsy Lane Road, Portage Road, Mermill Road and Freyman Road.