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I've ridden the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) three times; first in July of 2013, again in May 2016, and most recently in October of 2019. It is interesting to note the progress that has been made in filling in the on-road gaps in the trail between each ride. However, it is frustrating to witness the glacial pace at which this trail is being completed.
Currently, the largest on-road gaps in the OTET exist between the end of the Sippo Valley Trail in Dalton and the beginning of the Holmes County Trail in Fredericksburg; between Killbuck and Glenmont on the Holmes County Trail, and between the end of the Heart of Ohio Trail southwest of Centerburg and the beginning of the Sandel Legacy Trail in Sunbury. There are a few smaller gaps in the OTET among which include, the bike lane in the Ohio River Trail in Cincinnati, the missing bridge over Little Miami River at the end of the Little Miami Scenic Trail needed to connect to the Lunken Airport Bike Path and a less than 1 mile gap between the Prairie Grass Trail and the Roberts Pass Trail in London.
The Ohio to Erie Trail is a paved trail except for the portion of the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail that runs through northeast Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is unlikely that the National Park Service will pave this portion of the trail due to the canal's historical significance in developing the Ohio territory and helping to expand our nation from the original 13 colonies.
This trail links the three C's of Ohio -- Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. These are Ohio's 3 largest cities. In between you will encounter a variety of cities and towns; rivers, wetlands, and forests; industrial, commercial, and agricultural areas; and different types of topographies. This variety makes the Ohio to Erie Trail unique when compared to the nation's other long-distance trails.
It is important to understand that the OTET is still a work in progress. While some locations have embraced being a part of the trail, others seem to have completely ignored it. Communities that embrace the trail offer bike friendly establishments whether they be bike shops, hotels, Bnb's, restaurants, or trailheads. There just are not enough of them. The state of Ohio should be looking into promoting such businesses along the trail. One thing that is certainly needed are more official, recognized campsites along the trail. Whereas riders of C&O/GAP Trail, or Missouri's Katy Trail can expect to see a campsite roughly every 8 to 12 miles, the OTET has some areas where such campsites are 60 miles apart. Such distances don't make the trail appealing those that would prefer to camp. It also doesn't give riders much wiggle room in their itineraries to explore around the trail or deal with the unexpected such as a flat tire. Perhaps more campsites and other amenities will become a priority once the trail is fully completed.
My complaints are not intended to be a trashing of this trail but rather constructive criticism designed to help improve this into one of America's great trails. With the Rails to Trails Conservancy designating much of the OTET as part of its route for the Great American Rail-Trail through Ohio, I'm hoping that improvement and completion of the trail will become more of a state priority. If you are considering riding the Ohio to Erie Trail, don't hesitate. It is worth every pedal stroke.
The Little Miami Scenic Trail (LMST) is one of my favorite trails in Ohio. It has length (78 miles), scenery, wildlife, trail towns, amenities, lodging, camping, dining and shade. I've ridden this trail numerous times but this is my first review of the trail. I consider my home trail to be the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that runs through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Little Miami Scenic Trail probably should be considered my home away from home trail as it is so close to where my daughter lives. During my 2019 Ohio to Erie Trail ride, I rode the LMST from Xenia to Loveland and from Loveland to Avoca Park before having to road ride to get to Lunken Airport and the trail that circles the airfield there.
I rode part of the Simon Kenton Trail from Buck Creek into Springfield, Ohio back in July. The northern part of the LMST travels through Springfield and on to Yellow Springs before moving on to Xenia. Since this trail runs through both cities, farm land and the Little Miami Valley, there is quite a variety of scenery to look at. The city and towns vary as well. The trail towns range from some that have seen better days, to others that seem to be very trendy, and some that appear to be stuck in time. There is something for everyone along this trail. You won't be disappointed when riding this trail. Yellow Springs and Loveland are towns with restored train stations and dining and other amenities.
The trail surface is asphalt and is in very good condition with just a few spots where river bank slippage has caused some undermining of the riverside edge of the trail. The trail has numerous road crossings but once you get out of the larger cities you can ride for miles before having to cross another road. South of Xenia, because the trail parallels the Little Miami River in the narrow Little Miami Valley you feel as though you are in a much more isolated area than you truly are. There is plenty of wildlife. One of the highlights of my ride south from Xenia this time was having 3 deer cross the trail in front of me and ran down into a gulley that paralleled the trail only to race me along the trail route for about half a mile. My one complaint about the trail is this. The Little Miami River has been designated a National Scenic River. However, that designation must only apply if you are canoeing or kayaking on the river. From the trail you rarely get an unobstructed view of the river. Sometimes I think to myself, "Would it hurt to cut down a few trees here and there to let users of the trail enjoy the sights of the river, too?"
South of Loveland, the trail continues following the Little Miami River through Miamiville and Milford before reaching Avoca Park outside of Mariemont, Ohio. Once you reach Newtown Road you will have to ride out of the park and cross US-50 and ride through Mariemont to Wooster Pike before trying to connect to the Lunken Airport Bike Path. I should note that the Little Miami Trail does not end at Newtown Road. It actually passes under a bridge there and then goes across the Little Miami River and heads toward Lunken Airport. The problem is that the bridge that is supposed to be built over the Little Miami River to connect to the Lunken Airport Bike Path has not been built yet. I read about bridge construction of this bridge would start this summer, but there is absolutely no sign as to when this will happen. When this bridge is built the trail near Mariemont will be shorter and safer.
I rode the Prairie Grass Trail on October 4th as part of my southbound trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) route. I awoke that morning at the London, Ohio trailhead where I had camped the night before. The city of London and the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails have done a nice job of making a very friendly cyclists trailhead. There is an information/brochure kiosk in the picnic pavilion, water, electricity, a bathroom, 4 camping sites, and a bucket shower. One word of warning, if you camp here be aware that there are a number of trains that run through town at night and although the trailhead is not right on the tracks, you are close enough to the nearest crossing that if you're a light sleeper, I'm sure you will be awakened several times during the night.
The Prairie Grass Trail is a flat, straight trail that passes through large farms and the towns of South Charleston and Cedarville before arriving in Xenia. The ride between London and Xenia was fine, but slow, I think this was due to the accumulated effect of riding for 5 straight days and a slight but constant headwind. This headwind has been a constant on the Ohio to Erie Trail ever since heading out of Columbus, Ohio and into the farmland of the western middle of the state. (I believe that if you are going to ride the OTET only once, riding northbound might be the best bet as you will normally experience a tailwind between Xenia and Columbus based on the weather patterns of Ohio.
There are almost no turns in this 29 mile trail. There are a couple of dips and small undulations along this bikeway -- hardly enough to be called hills, but a bit of a departure from ultra flat rail-trails. The trail surface is asphalt which is in good shape. There is little in the way of tree cover as you ride through many farms.
South Charleston and Cedarville are much smaller towns than London and Xenia. South Charleston features a large grain elevator and at this time of year there were many grain cars on the rail sidings waiting to be filled. There is a short 1.1 mile on-road "detour" around the grain elevators and the movement of grain cars around that facility. South Charleston, has a nice trailhead that features bathrooms, parking, plenty of bike racks to chain up your bike(s) a picnic table or two, and a few train cabooses to remind you that you are riding a rail trail. You come into Cedarville on the south side of town. You pass by the Community Park, where it certainly looks like you might be able to camp there, but it is not something I have seen mentioned in any post or information about the town. As you reach South Main Street, you will see Hearthstone Inn & Suites which displays banners that they are bike friendly. The reviews I've seen for the place are positive. As with many of the towns along this western midsection of Ohio, the tree cover seems to thicken as you enter these towns. Xenia was not different. The trail comes to an end at Hill and Detroit Streets (Rt. 68) in Xenia. From here a widened sidewalk guides you through 2 crosswalks before you reach trail again on the edge of the Xenia Station grounds. When you reach Xenia Station a sign lets you know you are nearing the largest intersection of paved bikeways in the state of Ohio. In my opinion Xenia Station is also one of the prettiest old rail stations along any rail trail in the state of Ohio. The Prairie Grass Trail is very nice trail.
I rode the Roberts Pass Trail as part of my southbound trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail Route in early October. This 6.5 mile trail runs along the same active/semi-active rail line as the Camp Chase Trail before it. The rail lines seems to be much more active during harvest time than during other parts of the year. I guess all that corn and soybeans have to be transported somewhere from the numerous grain elevators you see as you ride along this trail. This trail is arrow straight, I don't remember making a turn at all after starting on this trail. The trail surface is asphalt and it appeared to have been seal-coated some time before I rode the trail. This is a nice trail but there is not a lot to see along its length other than a swamp/wetlands area near Matco Services on Maple Street.
The Camp Chase Trail runs along an active/semi-active rail line. For the most part the trail is straight as an arrow. The trail itself does tend to flip-flop sides of the tracks several times as it heads southwest toward London, Ohio. It undulates beside the tracks sometimes running above and sometimes below the track level. The asphalt trail surface is in good shape and is fairly wide. When I reached Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, I had to turn onto Darby Creek Drive and ride up to the park entrance and ride the park's roadway to reach the trail once again. This was disappointing because I knew that construction had started on completing the trail through the park, but unfortunately, it was not yet completed when I rode through at the start of October. For those bikers doing a northbound Ohio to Erie Trail ride this construction will eliminate a steep climb on the park's roadway coming up from the banks of Darby Creek. The new trail looks to diminish the slope of that climb.
The Camp Chase Trail is a nice trail, but I want to note two things. First, as you ride out of the North Hilltop neighborhood where this trail starts, the area surrounding the trail will open up. You will not be riding through a tunnel of trees any longer. You will definitely need sunscreen on sunny days. In addition, in all likelihood you will have to face a headwind, particularly if you are riding westbound on this trail. After leaving the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park you are surrounded by farmland almost the entire way until you reach London, Ohio. There is very little in the way to stop the wind coming at you. If you are traveling west on this trail keep that in mind. Secondly, make sure you have an adequate supply of water if traveling between Columbus and London. Towns and commercial areas are not nearly as close together as they are in Columbus. It was 95 degrees the day I rode from Columbus to London. Anytime I approached a small town or commercial area I double checked the levels of my water bottles and filled them up if I was at or below half of the 3 bottles total capacity. You probably don't need to be as vigilant as that on cooler days, but on really hot days I think it would be prudent.
I rode the Scioto Greenway Trail as part of my southbound cross-state ride on the Ohio to Erie Trail route during early October. I rode this trail from The North Bank Park Pavilion to the Hilltop Connector Spur (Trail?) where I connected with McKinley Avenue. The Scioto Greenway Trail is similar to the Alum Creek Trail in the fact that it follows the banks of the river it is named for. In my opinion, the Scioto Greenway is not as nice a trail as the Alum Creek Trail. It is not as tree covered as the Alum Creek Trail, but you don't see as much of the river because of the heavy brush between the trail and the river. The trail also tends to rise and fall more than the Alum Creek Trail. It's definitely a bit like a kiddie roller coaster you might find at an amusement park. Riding away from downtown you don't get to see much of the city skyline, either. When I rode the OTET route back in 2013 you were routed from the Olentangy River Trail to the Scioto River Greenway and headed east until you reached Broad Street and then rode out to Battelle Darby Creek Metropark where you would pick up the Camp Chase Trail. Going this way gave you spectacular views of the downtown Columbus skyline and the Scioto River as the brush is better maintained along the river downtown. However, the current route is far safer because it takes you off a busy thoroughfare and the Camp Chase Trail has been extended toward the Scioto Trail. There is a just a short 0.6 mile on-road connection between the trails.
In all fairness to the Scioto Greenway Trail, I probably will need to return and ride the entire length of this trail, especially along the lower part of the river, to see if riding the entire length of the trail would change my feelings about this trail. When looking at the trail map, you can see that the trail in the areas of Uptown, German Village and Brewery Districts run through metroparks. I'm sure that means that the trail in these areas is much more scenic.
I rode this trail as part of a southbound ride on the Ohio to Erie Trail route in early October. I turned off of the Alum Creek Greenway Trail before passing under I-670 and rode the Downtown Connector Trail through downtown Columbus. This was once called the I-670 Downtown Connector, or the I-670 Trail in case you have older maps. The Downtown Connector is just that; a trail that connects the Alum Creek Trail to Downtown Columbus and eventually to the Scioto Greenway Trail. About half of its length runs along I-670 West, the rest of it is mostly a glorified sidewalk into downtown Columbus, Ohio. It does get interesting when it passes through Columbus’s Arena District where there are lots of restaurants, stores, and bars. The Arena District gets very crowded with pedestrians during lunchtime hours on sunny days when the weather is nice and fairly warm. Expect to go slow in the Arena District due to the crowds and be prepared to stop for the safety of others.
I rode this trail in early October as part of a southbound ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati on the Ohio to Erie Trail route. The Alum Creek Trail is an absolutely beautiful trail that follows and crosses Alum Creek numerous times on architecturally interesting bridges. It is a well shaded trail, that I truly appreciated on a day when the temperatures rose to the mid-90's. I bet that it is even more spectacular when the leaves on the trees hit their peak Fall color. I'm not one to stealth camp, but the woods along the trail were certainly thick enough that you probably would have no problem finding a place to make camp without anyone finding you if you didn't want them to. I rode from Schrock Road in Westerville to the Downtown Connector Trail that runs along I-670. The Alum Creek Greenway Trail does continue further along the Alum Creek south of I-670.
The Alum Creek Trail is now the preferred route through Columbus on the Ohio to Erie Trail. However, it is further east than the older OTET routes through Columbus that I have ridden in the past. It seems that previous OTET routes cut more southwest through Columbus where the Alum Creek Greenway travels almost due south much further east than those previous OTET routes. If you are looking for an alternative route through Columbus consider combining the Westerville B&W, Schrock Road bike lanes, and the Olentangy Trail. I think you'd get through Columbus faster using this alternative route.
The Westerville B&W is more a network of trails rather than one single trail. They are not necessarily all rail-trails, though the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) in this trail system certainly seems like one because of how straight it was and how gradual the changes in elevation were. I rode just two of the trail routes in this network: The Ohio to Erie Trail (The Towers Trail on some maps) and the County Line/Schrock Trail. I rode the Ohio to Erie Trail south from Maxtown Road where the Genoa Trail ended, to County Line Road where I crossed over the street on a bridge and then circled back to pick up the County Line/Schrock Trail. I headed west on the County Line/Schrock Trail in order to get closer to the Polaris area where my hotel for the evening was located. The County Line/Schrock Trail definitely is not a rail-trail as the it rises and falls as it runs parallel to County Line Road. The ascents and descents were not too bad but they were not railroad grade hills. As I rode these trails I was struck by how wide they were, and how well they seemed to fit in with local infrastructure. Part of me thinks that one reason for the many wide trails in this network was that they were built as the city transitioned from a farm community to a Columbus suburb before many of the buildings and homes in the area were built. Or perhaps the community had a visionary City Council and Mayor that knew that these trails were something that a growing community would want to attract new residents and pushed for their construction despite the cost and barriers that had to be overcome.
The next day I rode the same trail routes out of town. I rode south on the Ohio to Erie Trail until I reached the Westerville Bike Depot. The Bike Depot was an interesting place to stop. It has a very clean and awesome display of now and then pictures of Westerville. There are water fountains, bike racks, rest rooms, lockers, a picnic table, and a fireplace. It is located behind the Westerville Public Library in Hanby Park. The southbound OTET route in Westerville is well signed and easy to follow. You follow the Ohio to Erie Trail south until you reach Schrock Road, then follow the bike lane on Schrock which leads you to the Alum Creek Trail.
I plan to come back to Westerville to check out the rest of the trails in this network.
The Genoa Trail is a short trail that serves as a connector between other trails in the Ohio to Erie Trail route. The trail connects to the Hoover Scenic Trail if you are traveling north, and the Westerville B&W (Bike & Walk) if heading south.
This trail is a pretty flat, pretty straight, 4 mile rail-trail that runs through Genoa Township, north of Westerville, Ohio. The trail parallels N. State Road (OH-3) for most of it's length. It passes by the Char-Mar Ridge Preserve and Park on it's northern end and finishes on its southern end by half-circling Northgate Plaza and the Home Depot Store on Maxtown Road in Westerville. Even though the trail is close to OH-3 you travel through a tunnel of trees for much of the 4 miles of the trail. It only really loses the tree cover when you approach Northgate Plaza.
The Hoover Scenic Trail is what I consider a short connecting trail in the Ohio to Erie Trail route. Essentially, it's purpose is to connect the Galena Brick Trail with the Genoa Trail just north of Westerville, Ohio. The reason this trail exists is because the actual railroad right of way that could connect the Galena Brick Trail directly to the Genoa Trail runs through the Blackhawk Country Club. In all likelihood the country club doesn't want bikers and pedestrians on their private golf property and there are probably liability insurance concerns over pedestrians and cyclists getting hit by golf balls. A short half mile on-road route south of the Galena Brick Trail connects to the Hoover Scenic Trail by looping around the Country Club. The Hoover Scenic Trail then completes the job by bringing the traveler back to the Genoa Trail which is where they would have been if the trail could have gone through the golf course.
The trail itself is in good shape. It travels along the Hoover Reservoir for a bit and then it turns west and up and over the Old 3C Highway (a fairly busy road) by way of a trail bridge. After crossing Old 3C the trail descends back down to Plumb Road where the trail ends. From here a southbound Ohio to Erie Trail rider would turn right and ride along Plumb road until you reached the Genoa Trail on the left side of Plumb Road. The total distance you travel on the Hoover Scenic Trail is 0.8 miles.
I recently rode this trail as part of a southbound trek on the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) route. This rail trail located in Galena, OH was 0.8 miles long but a new extension northeastward to the Sandel Legacy Trail has added another 2 miles. In addition, there is a trail loop in Galena's Miller Park, which I feel doesn't add much to the the OTET route, so if you are riding the across Ohio, skip this loop.
The surface of the trail is asphalt and is generally in good shape. The worst wear in the trail surface occurs in the trail loop in Miller Park. The part of the trail which is really part of the OTET Route is in good shape. To connect to the next southbound OTET trail in the cross-state route, the Hoover Scenic Trail, there is about a half mile of road riding. However, this on-road ride is pretty protected. You have sharrow markings on Dustin Road. When you reach W. Columbus St./S. Old 3C Rd. you get bike lanes to travel in, and when you turn left into Wiese Road you are riding an old road which basically only serves as a driveway for one house. Once you pass this house you are on the Hoover Scenic Trail.
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