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True to its name, the Heart of Ohio Trail lies in the central part of the state, extending from Mount Vernon southwest to the Knox-Licking County line just south of Centerburg. Along its nearly 16 miles, the trail highlights picturesque landscapes of woodlands, farm fields, and wetlands. The vast majority of the path is paved, with only a short section awaiting asphalt; that stretch spans just over a mile from Huffman Road in Centerburg south to the county line.
In Mount Vernon, the Heart of Ohio Trail begins 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. From here, you could hop on the Downtown Connector Trail, which runs a mile across town to meet up with the Kokosing Gap Trail on Mount Vernon’s east side. All three trails are part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, a planned 320-mile trail network that will eventually span Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
Another worthwhile side excursion while you’re in Mount Vernon is the Ariel-Foundation Park. Like many rail-trails, its grounds have 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.
Head southwest from Mount Vernon to travel on the Heart of Ohio Trail. Soon, you’ll be loosely paralleling Dry Creek, which gets quite close to the path at some points. Several bridges on the route take you over the creek. From spring through fall, wildflowers add to the trail’s beauty.
The trail ends in Centerburg, which is the geographic center of Ohio, hence the town’s name. A large boulder with a mounted plaque marks the central spot in the community park. The bustling small town also provides restaurants and shopping downtown.
On the trail’s northern end, parking is available at the William A. Stroud Welcome Center, located in the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad Depot (501 S. Main St., Mount Vernon). From I-71, take Exit 131 for US 36/OH 37. Go east 3.7 miles, and turn left to remain on US 36. In 21.9 miles, turn right onto County Road 80/Columbus Road. In 1.7 miles, the road meets S. Main St., and the depot will be on your left.
On the trail’s southern end, parking is available at Memorial Park (59 Johnsville Road, Centerburg) and the path’s terminus (2750 Huffman Road, Centerburg). To reach Memorial Park, from I-71, take Exit 131 for US 36/OH 37. Go east 3.7 miles, and turn left to remain on US 36. In 10.6 miles turn left onto Johnsville Road, which is also OH 314 N; the park is 0.1 mile ahead on your left. To reach the parking area on Huffman Road, from I-71, take Exit 131 for US 36/OH 37. Go east 3.7 miles, and turn left to remain on US 36. In 8.1 miles turn right onto Huffman Road. Go 0.5 mile, and the parking area will be on your left.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The trail now continues south from Centerburg towards Sunbury - I just checked and the paving looks like it was just finished.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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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