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From Parkersburg to mile marker 33 they have put down new gravel. In most places it’s been compacted and is smooth to ride. There is some spots of loose deep gravel that will slow you down. In Petroleum there is a covered picnic and bike repair stand with restroom. Past #33 it is still smooth pea gravel and good to ride to #44 that’s as far as I got. I would do it again. The only warning I have is the gates are closed and can be tricky to get around, one person actually took a bad fall trying to get around one. If you don’t feel confident walk your bike around.
We rode 10 miles from Parkersburg to Walker on a cool late fall day. The scenery was beautiful! We passed only 1 person on the trail during our ride. The gravel trail covered in leaves was challenging. Definitely need wider tires - we rode Trek gravel bikes. But the real reason this trail got only 3 stars was 19 closed gates blocking trail that you had to ride around. Dangerous edges to squeeze around gate - my husband almost wiped out.
Rode this trail twice this summer, once in June and again in September. Beautiful trail. Well maintained and mostly flat. Easy to find trailhead.
Rode this trail twice this year, once I. June and again in September. Perfect quick ride on a sunny day. Nice parking lot with a portable bathroom. Great scenery.
Wife and I finished this trail yesterday. Ohio has great bike trails.
I roller skated from Nelsonville to Athens on a hot and muggy August Saturday morning. The tree canopy kept me cooler for the majority of the ride. However, it also provided many obstacles on the path. Twigs, branches, leaves, wet leaves, and wet moss made for a tricky skate at some points. If this path is dry and clear, it’s is a perfect long quad skate. Bridges are concrete so no issues with them. Glad I found it on my trip to Hocking Hills.
I rode this trail out of North Bend State Park North to Pennsboro. It was about 11 miles each way. The next day I rode to Petroleum from North Bend State Park. The area is very nice. I saw a lot of deer on my morning ride south to Petroleum. Petroleum had a nice rest stop with bike work stand, restroom and shelter. It happened to be on a road and in someone's front yard. I went thru the "haunted" tunnel. fairly long, one could not see. Either bring a light or walk. I walked and I still went into a wall.
Cairo was in sad shape. The town needs revitalization. Services will be spotty.
Pennsboro has services but it was a Sunday and almost everything was closed. Horse droppings was prevalent going east. It would be a mess on a wet day. Went thru 4 tunnels, it was nice to break the trail monotony.
The trail is in generally in poor quality. Maintenance is done by putting down 1-2 inch gray stone rock as fill. Too bad the people responsible for the trail do not see how other trails across the country are kept. The Pumpkinvine trail in Indiana accepts donations online. There is a fiberoptic underground line being put in along the trail. I hope royalties help with trail maintenance. A town like Cairo could use some business from trail users. A better trail would bring people.
North Bend State Park is a very nice campground. It is very convenient to the Trail. It has showers and flush toilets.
We rode 6 miles in from west end, 5 miles each way from park connector - did not hit any trail closures. They are working on fibre optic, but we able to get around the minor digging where they are pushing the cable.
Tunnels were dark and covered in slick mud - we ended up walking the three east from the park connector.
This is no place for skinny road tires - gonna need fat ones for the mud, dirt, and gravel/ballast.
Riverbend campground is ideal spot to camp and have direct trail access.
Last month, during my 3 day trip to explore a number of southern Ohio TrailLink.com-listed trails I had the pleasure of riding the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. This 20.8 mile rail trail runs from the eastside of Athens to the center of Nelsonville, Ohio. I can easily say that this trail is the crown jewel of the bike trails in southeast Ohio. It is understandable that those people and entities working to complete the Moonville and Athens-Belpre Rail Trails are anxious to have their trails connected to the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway runs from County Road 24A east of Athens to the parking lot of the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store off of Myers Street in Nelsonville. During your ride you will pass through the Ohio University campus, and pass by the Ohio Health O’Bleness Hospital, the Eclipse Company Store Restaurant, the Bluebell Nature Preserve, the Tri-County Career Center, and ride through the Hocking College campus. When you arrive in Nelsonville make sure you check out the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad Depot and the town’s historic district as well.
The trail generally follows the course of the Hocking River between Athens and Nelsonville. It is a mixture of shaded river woodlands and sun-drenched farmlands and college campuses. On this particular 90 degree day, when I was in the sun it was quite hot, but when riding in the shade of the woods it was fairly comfortable. There are a few trailheads along the route where water and bathrooms are available, but they are spaced out quite a bit so I suggest having plenty of water on hot days.
North of the Eclipse Company Store in The Plains there is not much in the way of amenities until you reach Hocking College outside of Nelsonville. You ride along mostly shaded nature preserves and more open farmland. There are three craft breweries in Athens: Jackie O’s Taproom, Devil’s Kettle Brewing and Little Fish Brewing Co. all which are adjacent to the bikeway. The Eclipse Company Store Craft Beer Hall in The Plains has local brews and great barbeque. If you are so inclined, seek out Multiple Brewing while in Nelsonville.
The bikeway is paved, and other than a mile of tree root uplift just north of the Eclipse Company Store in The Plains, is in very good condition. There were quite a few people out either walking, jogging, or riding the trail throughout its entire length, but the trail never seemed crowded. However, I can’t say how busy the Ohio University section of the bikeway would be when the Fall and Spring semesters are in session. Though I rode this trail in July heat, I’m certain that this trail would be absolutely spectacular during the Fall with the trees in their autumn colors. This trail is definitely one to seek out.
The Athens-Belpre Rail Trail (ABRT) is an ambitious project that would connect the cities of Athens and Belpre, Ohio. Athens is home of Ohio University and the county seat of Athens County. Belpre is a city located on the Ohio River across from Parkersburg, West Virginia. If the Athens-Belpre Rail Trail is completed into Belpre, then a bridge connection over the Ohio River into Parkersburg could connect with the 72 mile long North Bend Trail which is planned to eventually connect with the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) somewhere near Pittsburgh. The ABRT would end up being somewhere around 40 miles in length when completed and would connect to the Hockhocking-Adena Bikeway in Athens.
Currently, there are three unconnected segments of trail located somewhat in the middle of what would be the completed trail. Together they total around 9.3 miles of trail. Since the trail is currently in the land acquisition phase, little has been done in terms of improving the current conditions of the acquired railroad right-of-way. This former B & O rail corridor also is the same right-of-way that the Moonville Rail Trail is based on.
When I checked out these 3 trail segments I started with the easternmost segment that the Athens-Belpre Rail Trail Steering Committee lists on their website. This is called the Ellis Road segment. It runs 1.7 miles from Ellis Road in the village of Torch, Ohio to the Athens-Washington County line on Township Road 297 near the Little Hocking Church of Christ. I started at Ellis Road but unfortunately was only able to complete .35 miles on an out-and-back ride on this grass-covered segment. When I reached the culvert “tunnel” that the trail uses to pass under the US-50/OH-32/OH-7 freeway, it was so full of soft mud it was literally impassable. So much for reaching the county line.
The second trail segment is named Torch West on the Athens-Belpre Rail Trail website. It starts on North Torch Road and heads west from there. There is a gap of about .4 miles between the Ellis Road trailhead and the start of the Torch West segment which is currently held in private hands. Of the three ABRT trail segments I rode, this one was the most scenic. The trail surface here was also grass-covered and soft in a number of spots but passable. As you ride this 1.6 mile segment you are quickly surrounded by trees and feel as though you are the only one around for miles and miles. You pass through a couple of hillside cuts until you reach a missing bridge over Skunk Run and must stop.
The westernmost of the three current ABRT segments is named the Frost Road segment as it parallels Frost Road (Athens County Rd 58) for most of its length. The trail surface of this segment was the best of the three as it consisted of 2 wheel tracks from cars using this segment as a Flood Emergency Route when the nearby Hocking River floods and closes Frost Road. This does not mean that this segment was a smooth ride. There were quite a few puddles in potholes and the trees and brush narrowed the trail significantly in spots. I traveled about 2.1 miles on this 6 mile segment before turning around. The trail surface was beginning to get pretty soft and I didn’t want to work harder to complete the last 2.5 miles (and back to my turn around point) after having spent all day in mid-90 degree heat.
The Athens-Belpre Rail Trail will be an achievement when it is completed. There is regional interest in creating this trail with several groups such as the Athens Conservancy 501(c)(3) land trust, The Belpre Multi-Use Trail Committee, and private and corporate donors working to acquire more of this 40 mile rail corridor. From what I can see, little will be done to improve the condition of the acquired trail segments until most of the route has been acquired. Therefore, I would suggest that this trail should be viewed as a hiking trail for the foreseeable future. If you are interested in biking what presently exists of this trail, wide-tired bikes are a must. Even when the entire right-of-way is purchased much work will need to be done to make this trail bikeable. The trail surface will need to be regraded and improved, drainage problem spots addressed, and numerous bridges repaired, replaced, or created. In fact, there are at least 6 crossings of the Hocking River where currently no bridge exists and each would be a major construction project. Perhaps if the Biden Administration can pass an infrastructure bill then funds might be available to speed up the development of this trail. At its current pace of development, however, it will be quite some time before anyone is riding a bike on a trail between Athens and Belpre, Ohio.
Last month I rode 10.2 miles on an out-and-back ride on the Moonville Trail starting in the Athens County hamlet of Mineral and riding west toward the town of Zaleski, Ohio. I made it about 2/3rds of the way to Zaleski, but once the trail surface changed to grass covered railway ballast I decided to turn around because I don’t think I could have withstood riding an additional four teeth-rattling miles.
The trail is currently being upgraded due to the federal government wanting to seal a bunch of old abandoned mines in the hills surrounding this old railway. According to workers I met repairing a pair of trail bridges, funds were granted to Vinton County to create the needed infrastructure to enable the equipment needed to seal these old mines to safely reach them. This means that all the bridges along the trail are being upgraded or replaced in order to carry trucks, other power equipment, and supplies needed to seal those old mines. The surface of the trail has had a crushed stone/dirt mix spread over the old railroad ballast surface up to the point where I turned around.
The trail is quite isolated so make sure you have plenty of water, a spare inner tube, and some repair tools. Most of the trail is shaded as it passes through Ohio's Zaleski State Forest. You will also pass by quite a few lakes and marshes as well as cross over the meandering, deep, and slow-moving Raccoon Creek numerous times. Bug repellant would be a good addition to have with you at certain times of the day and year. There certainly seems to be plenty of opportunity to see lots of wildlife, though current construction on the trail may have animals avoiding the trail during typical working hours.
Like several of the other TrailLink.com-listed trails in southern Ohio, the Moonville Rail Trail has tremendous potential, but is not yet ready to shine. I’ll have to come back in a few years when the work is done to give an updated review.
Super nice trail. Dont miss it.
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