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Once the corridor of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway, today the 11.2-mile Conotton Creek Trail offers complete immersion in a bucolic setting in northeastern Ohio. Situated in the rolling Appalachian foothills, the route has a significant coal-mining past.
At one time, the line was used to transport iron ore from Great Lakes ports to the steel mills of the Ohio River Valley, and haul coal mined from Harrison County to markets in all directions. Today, one of the rail lines is still used, carrying coal, raw materials, and manufactured goods.
The Conotton Creek Trail models the rustic beauty of its surroundings, and its careworn surface covers a paved, albeit bumpy in sections, undulating route. Several particularly rough spots may bounce you around a bit, but the rest of this trail lulls you into a state of relaxation and delivers a serene setting rich in wildlife.
Riding from quaint Bowerston east to Jewett makes your return trip slightly downhill. The ponds east of Bowerston provide a wonderful environment for birding, as do the berried bushes along the route and more than 40 birdhouses. A colorful palette of wildflowers and pastoral landscapes dotted with horses and cattle completes the picturesque backdrop.
A highlight of the experience is passage through the trail’s five covered bridges crossing Conotton Creek. The waters below the bridges eventually feed into the Ohio River, as well as into the Mississippi River more than 500 miles away.
The final few miles into the town of Jewett are just as calming and refreshing as those from Bowerston to the trail’s midpoint at Scio. Jewett, similar to Bowerston, has fewer than 1,000 people, but the town was an important cog in the wheel of this region’s development. Jewett was not only an important stop on the railroad, like the other towns you pass, but was also once home to a streetcar manufacturer and an opera house.
To reach the trailhead in Bowerston: From I-77, take Exit 65 for US 36. Head east on US 36, and go 14.2 miles. Continue straight on US 250 another 1.3 miles. Turn left to stay on US 250, and go 4.5 miles. Turn left onto OH 151, and go 5.3 miles northeast toward Bowerston. Just past downtown Bowerston, find signs directing you to the trailhead on the right (south) side of OH 151. The trail terminus is near 416 Broadway St.
To reach the trailhead in Jewett: Follow the directions above to OH 151. Once on OH 151, go 16.8 miles to Jewett. Turn left onto Cadiz St., and in 0.1 mile turn right onto Water St. Look for the well-marked trailhead on the right.
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