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The Camp Chase Trail plays a role in two of Ohio’s most exciting trail projects: it is a key piece of the cross-state Ohio to Erie Trail and an integral part of the Central Ohio Greenways network around the greater Columbus region. The trail takes its name from the railroad that shares the corridor with it; it’s a shining example of a well-constructed rail-with-trail.
The route begins in rural Madison County, just west of the community of Lilly Chapel at the Wilson Road trailhead. If you went west from here, you'd be on the Roberts Pass Trail, which travels 6.5 miles to London. Go east from Wilson Road instead to take the Camp Chase Trail. The first mile and a half offers a peaceful trail experience through Ohio farm country; you’ll see fields of soybeans and corn, in addition to well-maintained homes and barns.
The crossroads at Lilly Chapel are notable due to the grain elevator operation located close to the trail. If you’re lucky, you may see a train being loaded with the bounty of the fields you just crossed. Once past the elevator, fields again predominate the landscape.
Georgesville appears in another 3.2 miles. The trail weaves through town, and you head downhill to the Darby Creek Bridge. Crossing the bridge takes you into Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, a recreational gem with 7,000 acres of prairies and forests. At this point, the Camp Chase Trail is now off the rail corridor for the only time in its entire length. You’ll have a great experience getting close to the creek, crossing under the very tall rail trestle bridge, and then meandering up the hill through the forest. The trail eventually takes you to the park entrance road, and you travel on that road for a short distance back to the rail corridor. If you wish to explore the park further, take Darby Creek Drive to access the Darby Creek Trail, which winds north through the park.
The small town of Galloway greets you just 4 miles past the park. Not far from Galloway the ambience takes on a different character as you enter the first outlying neighborhoods of greater Columbus. Another 2.5 miles from Galloway and almost at the end of the trail, you get a nice treat. In 2015 a new trail bridge was built next to the active railroad bridge and across the very wide and busy I-270 loop. Crossing this bridge means that you’re almost at trail’s end in Columbus’s Hilltop neighborhood. If you’re up for more riding, a short gap of on-road riding will take you to the Scioto Greenway Trail, which follows the Scioto River through downtown Columbus.
To reach the Wilson Road trailhead on the west end of the trail: From I-70, take Exit 85 for OH 142 (to Plain City). Head south on OH 142/NE Plain City–Georgesville Road, and go 2.3 miles. Turn right onto US 40/National Pike, and travel west 0.8 mile. In the town of West Jefferson, turn left (south) onto Walnut St.; at Garrette Park, the road veers right and continues as Fellows Ave. In 0.3 mile take a left onto Garfield Ave., then an immediate right onto Lilly Chapel Road. Head west on Lilly Chapel 0.2 mile, and make a slight left onto W. Jefferson Kiousville Road SE. Travel 1.6 miles and, at the fork, turn right onto Wilson Road. Go 2.6 miles as the road heads south; the trailhead parking lot will appear on your right (on the west side of the road).
To reach the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park trailhead: From I-270, take Exit 5 for Georgesville Road, and head west 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Norton Road, and travel south 0.7 mile. Turn right onto Bausch Road, and travel west 0.9 mile; it becomes Alkire Road. Continue another 3 miles (you’ll be heading southwest); the trailhead and parking lot will be on your left (on the south side of Alkire Road).
To reach the trailhead at Wilson Road Park in Columbus, take I-270 to Exit 7A, and head east on US 40/W. Broad St. In 1.3 miles turn right onto S. Wilson Road, and go 0.5 mile. Turn right onto Wilson Park Way to reach the trailhead parking. Camp Chase Trail is at the north end of the park.
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