Heart of Ohio Trail


33 Reviews

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Heart of Ohio Trail Facts

States: Ohio
Counties: Knox
Length: 16.9 miles
Trail end points: 5875 Township Hwy 51 (Centerburg) and 501 S Main St (Mt Vernon)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6121498

Heart of Ohio Trail Description


True to its name, the Heart of Ohio Trail lies in the central part of the state, extending between Mount Vernon and the Knox-Delaware County line southwest of Centerburg. Along its nearly 17 miles, the trail highlights picturesque landscapes of woodlands, farm fields, and wetlands.

About the Route

In Mount Vernon, the Heart of Ohio Trail leaves off from its northern endpoint at the beautifully restored Cleveland, Akron & Columbus (CA&C) Railroad Depot, which dates back to 1907. The trail is built on the railbed that once carried trains in and out of the station.

A worthwhile excursion along the route in Mount Vernon is the Ariel-Foundation Park. Like many sites along the trail, the park has an industrial past. Once the site of a glass manufacturing plant, the 250-acre park houses unique sculptures (including a glass “stream”) and a labyrinth, in addition to a towering smokestack with a staircase spiraling around the outside that you can climb for a breathtaking view of the countryside.

Heading southwest from Mount Vernon along the route, the trail loosely parallels Dry Creek, which gets quite close to the path at some points. Several bridges on the route take trail users over the creek. From spring through fall, wildflowers add to the trail’s beauty.

Where the Heart of Ohio Trail crosses US 36—about 2 miles northeast of Centerburg—the trail passes a monument denoting the highest point on the Heart of Ohio Trail at 1285 ft. This is also the highest point along the entire Ohio to Erie Trail.

At the southern endpoint along N County Line Rd (Hwy 51) in the outskirts of Centerburg, the trail is situated in the Newell Recreation Preserve, which features 40 acres of wetlands and prairies.


At the trail's eastern endpoint, the Heart of Ohio connects to the short Downtown Connector Trail which leads to the longer Kokosing Gap Trail just a short distance away.

At the trail's western end, it continues past N County Line Rd. as the Meredith State Road Trail.

The Heart of Ohio Trail is part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, a trail network that spans Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

The Heart of Ohio Trail is part of the Great American Rail Trail, a 3,700-mile route from Washington to Washington D.C. 

Parking and Trail Access

The Heart of Ohio Trail runs between 501 S Main St (Mt Vernon) and 5875 Township Hwy 51 (Centerburg), with parking available at either end.

Parking is also available at:

  • 16999 Township Hwy 104 (Centerburg)
  • Hiliar Township Memorial Park, 21 OH-314 (Centerburg)

See TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions

Heart of Ohio Trail Reviews

Trail Extended from Centerburg to Sunbury

Trail is 23 miles in length and runs from Mt. Vernon in Knox County to mile 0 at the Knox / Delaware County line. Then continues for another 7.5 ish miles to Sunbury in Delaware County. New sections have been added along with several bridges. Plenty of shade on this trail along with open farmlands. Uphill for about the first 10 miles from Mt. Vernon towards Centerburg. But great on the return trip! We rode from Mt. Vernon to Sunbury and back for a 46 mile round trip on a beautiful Sunday in August, 2023.

beautiful ride

Lots of shade. Uphill from Mt Vernon to Centerville

Centerburg to Galena

This is a great trail to ride, the newly paved Newell Preserve connector allows you to ride into Sunbury. I stopped in Galena this ride and enjoyed the trail immensely. Just a word of warning, the trail is on the downgrade from Centerburg into the Columbus area, so the return trip was a little more of a struggle but only because I overdid it for an early season ride.

September 2022 Ride

Traveling almost 3 hours to get to, worth the drive. Enjoyed the ride and time spent in Mt. Vernon. We biked from Mt. Vernon to Mt. Liberty and back and also the Kokosing Gap trail while in the area. Heart of Ohio Trail is quiet and in good condition. Mostly shaded but there are some open farmlands areas. In Mt. Vernon we spent time at the Trailhead in Ariel Foundation Park and also biked up to the Dog Fountain a few blocks away. The new connector path under the bridge is open connecting with Kokosing Gap trail instead of trying to cross the 4 lane busy street.


In the Heart of Ohio

Trail is purely a taste of what Ohio is all about. Open farmlands through small towns and add in some wooded areas as well. And this trail is flat!
We parked in Mount Vernon and accessed the trail at Ariel Foundation Park which is a cool historic place of the former PPG glass works which closed in the 1970's. We biked to Centerburg and back for a 30 mile round trip. Along the trail there is basically nothing as far as trail services so take water and snacks with you. In Centerburg you can go to the little town a few blocks off the trail. We found places to grab lunch, snacks and water.
This trail connects with several other trails. You can bike from Centerburg OH to Glendale OH on 40 miles of paved asphalt via connecting trails Kokosing Gap, Mohican Valley and Holmes County.

flat and shaded

Shade yes, sun yes, wood bridges over water and dry creek beds yes, restored rail road trestles yes. Not a super exciting ride for scenic views but a nice one.

great trail

The trail is paved and has a canopy of trees for most of the way. Once you get to mount Vernon there is a very good BBQ truck attached to the Happy Street brewery. It’s a great place to stop.

Timothy M Barr

What part of trail is ballast? We have rode the Kokosing many times, now looking to go further south

A Interesting Trail That Keeps Getting Better

The Heart of Ohio Trail is a 15.7 mile trail that goes from Mount Vernon, Ohio and travels southwest through the towns of Mount Liberty and Centerburg before ending at Huffman Road about 2 miles southwest of Centerburg.

The trail pretty much parallels US-36 from Mount Vernon to Sunbury. It is paved and again is a typical rail-trail in terms of how hills are smoothed out into a manageable gradient. While this trail, to me, lacks the same level of natural beauty that the Holmes County and Kokosing Gap Trails have, it makes up for that with some very interesting sights along the way.

The first of those sites is the Ariel-Foundation Park right in Mount Vernon, Ohio. This park starts at Mount Vernon Station, right after you cross S. Main Street and continues through the park which is built on the site of an old Pittsburgh Paint & Glass (PPG) factory. The park features, some hiking trails, sculptures, an event center/concert venue, some remanent buildings from the PPG days, and probably the most interesting feature is the observation deck that is built around the 280 foot reinforced concrete chimney that was once part of the plant. If you climb to the top you can overlook the entire park, the city of Mount Vernon, and look for miles in any direction.

The second interesting site is drag racing strip several miles beyond Ariel-Foundation Park. I have ridden past the strip when there were still some cars and racing teams at the track, but I have yet to witness any racing going on as I passed by.

As you come into Centerburg, you have to cross over US-36. This is a busy road, so even though the rail-line crossed this road at an angle, they have re-routed the crossing so it is perpendicular to the roadway, and have placed a push button flashing signal to alert drivers of someone crossing. almost immediately after crossing US-36 For southbound travelers, almost immediately after crossing US-36, you come upon a marker stating you have just reached the highest point on the Heart of Ohio Trail. The trail then descends into Centerburg passing by Hillair Township Park/Memorial Park until you come to N. Clayton Street. Here you will find see the grain elevators and a pizza place called Pizza Burg. There are other places to eat in town if you chose to turn left and head to the center of town.

The Heart of Ohio Trail now gets you through Centerburg completely, and while you still will need to quite a bit of road riding, there are now pieces of trail between Centerburg and the Hoover Scenic Trail, south of Sunbury, that are in place and waiting to be connected to other nearby trails with construction going on right now. I think 3 years from now there will absolutely no road riding between Mt. Vernon and Columbus.

Centerburg to Mt. Vernon

Did Centerburg to Mt. Vernon on this trail today. Beautiful day, beautiful trail with spring in full bloom ¿¿. There was a big tree that had fallen and was crossing the entire path not too for Centerburg so as long as you can carry your bike you can pass. I didn’t realize I was going downhill until the way back and it was definitely a long incline but doable. I stopped @ lunch for Barbs diner in Mt. Vernon for lunch. Not bad diner food, friendly staff. Plenty of parking in Centerburg and there is a trailhead about midway with parking as well.

A very easygoing trail considering the elevation change

Which is one of the 2 greatest elevation changes in the whole OtEt, although it really doesn't feel that way from S to N. More so the other way as you go uphill longer. (The other being on the roads from Fredericksburg to Dalton.) I went from the "orphaned" section from Meradith to N County Line, south of Huffman through the mile and 1/2 and then used the roads to get to the main line at Huffman. Then went all the way to Danville. This trail ends right past the Ariel Foundation Park, which is a worthy place to stop and check out. The tower climb and picture taking is nice. I'm really hoping they'll connect the 2 sections on the southern end, and someone will realize that putting a trail on 36 off the right side of the road for the 2-3 miles along US 36 from Sunbury to the Heart of Ohio Trial would be great!

Very nice

Rode from one end to the other and back. Level and we paved. Fair amount of tree cover from the sun. Very few road crossings. Cool park at the northeastern end.

Wondering where it connects to Sunbury?

I had the joy of riding this trail out of Mt. Vernon last week. I started at the train depot, a marvelous trail head by the way, and rode the Kokosing Gap Trail to Danville and back. Of course, on my return i had the delicious pulled pork at the chuck wagon that is parked there in Mt. Vernon at the trail head. Then i rode the HOOT for the first time. What a wonderful time. Sadly the trail abruptly ended south of Centerburg with no indication of where one might go on the open roads to get the next section. Of a positive note also the Centerburg Church of God has a nice rest station canopy just off the trail, with sign on trail noting same, and a fridge filled with free bottled cold water and also a box to leave prayer requests. What a wonderful example of the ministry of Jesus. All in all a delightful day but i look forward to finding the connector so i can ride to Columbus from Mt. Vernon someday.

Update on the trail

The trail now continues south from Centerburg towards Sunbury - I just checked and the paving looks like it was just finished.

Beautiful trail

We have ridden several times this year - it starts in Centerburg and goes to Mount Vernon - It is downhill from Centerburg to Bangs Ohio then it levels out - the uphill ride back will slow you down a bit.

Overall a very nice trail.

Great trail and new food stop

I ride Heart of Ohio/Kokosing Gap a couple of times a month. They are great trails, and I enjoy Ariel Foundation Park. Now there's a new food stop located on the newish trail connector in Mount Vernon, Ohio. It's a pit barbeque food truck, see http://www.roadhogwillysbbq.com, spreading its aromas from the parking lot at 500 S. Main Street. That is directly across the street from the railroad station and just beside the button-activated walk light that takes trail users across Main Street in a high traffic area.

I talked to the owner today, the truck is open for lunch Monday through Friday through November. No seating, but some seating is available across the street outside the train station.

Great Trail! And connects with Kokosing GAP

This trail goes through Ariel Foundation Park. The park was constructed circa 2014.

Ariel Foundation Park, visit their website. Way too cool to describe. In a nutshell, this is the former PPG industrial site. Park offers a bit of history, nice lake, restrooms, picnicking and the Rastin Observation tower....PPG's stack built in 1951, closed in 1979. 250+ steps will lead you to an awesome view. Free. Closed Mid-Nov thru Mid-April.

In Mt. Vernon you can park at the former train station. Go in one direction out the Kokosing GAP trail or this direction on the Heart of Ohio Trail. Often referred to as HOOT.

HOOT goes South West from Mt. Vernon to Centerburg through wooded areas and open farmlands. Just out of Mt. Vernon the trail passes Pacemakers Dragway Park.

Trail is asphalt paved in nice condition.

Eateries in nearby Mt. Vernon.

WCI Biking Division Number 7

The WCI Biking Division has returned to Knox county to ride the Heart of Ohio Trail. This trail starts in Mt. Vernon and continues to Centerburg. Heading south it is a noticeable up-hill (for a rail trail), especially when you turn around and head back you notice the ease of the ride down-hill. WCI co-founder Rod was shifting in to gears heading back he hadn't used in quite a while. While we enjoyed the drag strip just south of Mt. Vernon, there isn't a lot else to look at on the ride. We think this would most likely be a fun trail to ride in the fall due to the thick woods along the route. This is a nicely paved trail. Several small gravel road to cross. Watch for traffic as a lot of those are blind. The WCI Biking Division ranks this trail number 7 on our list of trails north of I-70.

HOOT now links to Kokosing Gap Trail! Makes a 28 mile ride each way

I think it's a lovely trail with pretty scenery of woods, fields, farms, and pastures.

My friend and I rode the HOOT on Mother's Day and I was delighted to find that the trail now links directly to the Kokosing Gap trail in Mount Vernon without having to ride on streets. We didn't ride quite all the way to Danville, but you can. We rode 55 miles all together (round trip), but you could ride a bit further than that.

I was also happy to find that you no longer have to portage your bike over the train tracks in Mount Vernon, as described in earlier reviews. There was a nice, fresh asphalt bike path riding over the tracks there by the bike hub fight before crossing the street and riding on to the Kokosing Gap trail.

We saw plenty of porta-johns along the way.

The trail was in good condition, the riding mostly flat, no real hills (although after 50 miles some of the gentle little rises seem like hills).

Overall Nice Ride

I start at Memorial Park in Centerburg, there is a small gravel parking lot right by the trail. The park had a porta-jon last time I was there. It's an easy ride with a slight downhill grade about 12 miles to Ariel Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon. It's a very flat ride with absolutely no significant hills. The trail asphalt is in excellent condition with no hazards other than an occasional fallen tree branch. About half way there is a small park lot at Mt Liberty, I have seen a porta-jon there before but not recently. Also, the restrooms at Ariel Foundation Park were locked last time I was there, probably due to cold weather. There is only one short section that runs close to RT 3, the rest is more secluded and there is some shade. Ariel Foundation Park is large and could be a fun ride to explore but unfortunately the geese are out of control. The goose droppings in the park are ridiculous and I think the park is suffering because of it. If you do this ride in the summer there is a farmers market along the way that sells ice cream bars. I've done this ride multiple times and the trail is almost always nearly empty, you will go for miles and not see a soul. I've never been attacked by any aggressive dogs on this trail which is nice. Overall a nice little ride but be prepared to duck behind a tree as facility options are limited.

HoOT is a hoot.

This trail offers a nice tour of several parks, and a great scenic ride through the heart of Ohio. The parks are spreed out evenly through the transit. A portage over a railway is required at the Mt Vernon trailhead.

Ariel Foundation Park

Started the ride in Centerburg Oh. and rode towards Mt. Sterling. The pavement is asphalt all the way and in excellent condition. The only part not paved is going over the RR track right in site of the newly refurbished train station in Mt. Vernon. Lifted up the bike and carried them over the tracks and went on our merry way.

One of the biggest surprises was the Ariel Foundation Park about a mile from the end of the trail in Mt. Vernon. The old PPG building has been demolished and a huge park with a lake, shelter houses and rest room facilities has been constructed for public use. A good hour of riding around the premises was one great discovery after another.
Strongly recommend the ride.

A wonderful and long ride

This trail is now asphalt all the way into Mt. Vernon. There is a small portion of the trail at the very start point still unpaved, but not far at all. If you were to start from the park area in Centerburg, it is a flat, smooth, and clean ride all the way to Mt. Vernon. A wonderful and challenging 16 mile ride up and a wonderful and challenging 16 mile ride back. An outstanding trail. 5 stars awarded here!

Great ride

Rode Mount Vernon to Centerburg and back just the other day. It is completely paved now to just west of the park in Centerburg. Apparently the trail goes beyond that point...Maybe it starts back up somewhere on the west side of town?...will investigate that the next time.
It was a nice, smooth ride the entire length. Plenty of shade and gradual grades. All they need is a few benches and a bathroom facility along the way and it will be as good as the Kokosing Gap Trail.

Holmes county trail and kokosing Gap trail

This year I discovered rails to trails in North Central Ohio. It made my summer. In the small town of Killbrook, Ohio is a trail head. Park your car an just ride. Very green scenery, and paved asphalt . Amish in there buggies and walking having a good time. Very respectable, wholesome environment. Trees, farm fields, and lush swampland. I have narrow racing tires and they were never close to being popped. I believe this is the Holmes County Trail.
Next the kokosing Gap trails in Knox County Ohio is terrific. One Access is in the town of Howard across from a small restaurant called grillers..Either direction is beautiful. Again, plush green Ohio farmland. No traffic. Water at the end of the trail head. Length of the trail is probably 17 miles. Asphalt is in perfect condition. Totally great trail. The trail services Danville, Howard , Gambier-Kenyon college the mount Vernon.
Finally, another trail that is 18 miles long is from Butler,to Bellville to Lexington to Mansfield. It is great.the trail is the old B&o railroad. You pass through beautiful country farmland then tree lined path covered for miles. Beautiful small bridges throughout. To get there, go to miles marker 165 on interstate 71 and exit to state route 97. The trail follows mainly state route 97. Access is either in butler or Belleville or about a mile from interstate 71. There is a bike store at mile marker 11. Have a good time.

It really is the heart!

When I think of Ohio, I think about the things along this trail: woods, farmland and robust small towns close to vibrant cities. This trail, so close to Columbus is perfect. Weit was quiet but close to so much. Not crowded, well marked. There was plenty of parking and the trail was smooth and mostly shaded. Look forward to riding it again

Great Trail

We did Centerburg to Mt Vernon on paved trail the entire way. Mostly shade, smooth and wide trail. The only downside is there are no facilities on the entire trail and only 2 picnic tables

Centerburg to Mt Vernon and Kokosing Gap Trail

Rode the trail between Mt. Vernon and Centerburg today. Wasn't sure if it was all paved, due to some conflicting posts I've read. It is definitely all paved. Very nice trail. Smooth, wide, and runs through some scenic areas. To get to the Kokosing Gap trail, you will need to ride about 3 miles through town. Easy to get there.

South West End Point - Heart of Ohio Trail, non existent

Nice route of about 14 miles from Centerburg to Mt. Vernon Ohio.
Please note: The route from Centerburg to the SouthWest Endpoint in the map (5796-6398 Township Highway 51, Trenton OH) is non-existent, or I couldn't find it. Path starts at Centerburg and ends in Mt. Vernon (or vice-versa).

Paving the unfinished part!

They are currently working to pave the remaining part of the trail from now through the first week in November.

After the paving is complete, the trail will connect to the Kokosing Gap Trail - which will offer more than 50 miles of trail!

peaceful cruise

I have ridden this trail four or five times. It is well maintained. It is mostly shady and has a few gentle grades. Since I ride a skinny tire bike I stuck to the paved portion. Could have a few more benches for us older riders. Nice little shelter at Mt.Liberty. Looking forward to completion of asphalt,and connecting to the Kokosing gap trail.

Great Trail

We parked at Memorial Park in Centerburg and headed to the right towards Mount Vernon. It is paved from Centerburg towards Mount Vernon for about 7 miles. After that it is ballast and we only went about a half mile then turned around. The paved portion is very nice. It parallels State Route 36 but is separated by houses, farm fields and woods so the road noise is not that bad. There were lots of finches and other songbirds and one house had a llama that took a dust bath while I photographed it. On the return trip we continued past Memorial park and the pavement ended in Centerburg about 4/10 of a mile past the park. There is a pizza place at the end of the pavement.

Heart of Ohio Trail

The Heart of Ohio Trail is a beautiful, scenic journey through the geographical center of Ohio. We're looking forward to its completion!

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