Heritage Rail-Trail


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Heritage Rail-Trail Facts

States: Ohio
Counties: Franklin, Madison
Length: 6.1 miles
Trail end points: Center Street (Hilliard) and Cemetery Pike (Plain City)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6121476
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Heritage Rail-Trail Description

More than half of the smooth, flat, 6.1-mile Heritage Rail-Trail has a parallel 4-mile horse trail. The equestrian corridor starts at Hayden Run Road and continues northwest to the Cemetery Pike trailhead. If you're walking, biking or inline skating, start the trail in downtown Hilliard off Main Street. The trailhead has an abundance of parking, a warm-up area and bike rack; the adjacent Old Hilliard historic district has numerous shops and eateries.

Journeying northwest you immediately come across a lovely fountain and a pond on the south side of the trail. From an observation platform on the banks of the pond you can view Canada geese. If you prefer art to wildlife, an excellent display of public art includes some colorful sculptures. This trail has numerous well-designed connections to soccer fields, tennis courts and the local high school football field. There are also connecting paths to the many housing subdivisions in this rapidly growing part of central Ohio. For example, the Vaniard Trail branches off to the south at Hoffman Farms Drive and connects to a subdivision of homes and Hoffman Farms Elementary School. It ends at Municipal Park and Pool, which has baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a pool and plenty of parking.

The trail links two major parks: Homestead in Washington Township and Hayden Run Metro. Homestead Park is approximately 1.3 miles from the start in downtown Hilliard and has a restored Conrail caboose, restrooms, parking, vending machines, public telephones, a 0.75-mile loop trail, playground equipment, an information kiosk, a fishing pond and picnic tables. After Homestead Park the trail continues through the countryside. If you like birding, there are many bluebird boxes along the trail. Hayden Run Metro Park, on Hayden Run Road, is just 1.1 miles from Homestead Park. The parallel equestrian path begins in this park, and the area features a corral and horse trailer parking. The coarse gravel horse trail runs on the east side of the Heritage Trail until Amity Pike, where it switches to the west side.

From Amity Pike the last 2 miles of tree-lined trail allow glimpses of classic Midwest farmland. The trail ends at Cemetery Pike just over 1 mile southeast of Plain City.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the trailhead in downtown Hilliard from Interstate 270, take Cemetery Pike west for 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Norwich Street and after 0.5 mile turn left onto Wayne Street and go another 0.1 mile. Turn right onto Center Street and look for the trailhead on the left.

To reach the trailhead in Plain City from Interstate 270, take US 33 west for 2.8 miles and exit onto State Route 161 west toward Plain City. After another 2.8 miles, turn left on Cemetery Pike. The trailhead is on the left.

Heritage Rail-Trail Reviews

One of the best trails for inline skating in the Columbus area. The open farmland keeps the trail mostly free from leaves, sticks and other “hazards “. It has only a few crossroads.

This is a nice trail which many might label as boring because there are no real turns or hills. What I liked about the trail was it certainly appears that the city of Hilliard and Franklin County are using this rail trail as a spine to a much larger citywide cycling network with many spurs and bike lanes connecting to neighborhoods and parks along its length.

I would like to see this trail extended out to nearby Plain City. In the long, long-term perhaps the Metro Parks could extend the Darby Creek Trail this far north to make a connection somewhere by Three Mile Creek near Plain City.

31 Aug 2018Rode this trail today. Nice ride, but trail needs some work. Lots of bumps and seams that need repair. But still a nice ride.


Good trail for biking. A great use for an older trail. Some roots are poking up at the end but generally smooth and flat

good ride, couple of spots where the asphalt is uneven but people are courteous and grade is level,

The beginning in Hilliard is well done and nice spot to visit. The other end is in the middle of nowhere. I suspect they plan to continue the trial at some point in the future. Well paved and maintained. Not much to see and not much shade.

Rode this with two children. 3yo in trailer and 5yo rider. Rode 10.5 miles. You can pick the trail up at Homestead Park, which is the highlight because it makes for a great finishing spot for a picnic lunch and play area for kids. Trail is somewhat boring. Very straight and flat which is better for speed and fitness but not great if you want a scenic rode.

Other than my fear of dogs, I love this trail! I really get creped out when I'm by houses I don't know about. Other than that, it's a great trail! I live on 3233 Walkerview Dr so it's close to me, and very muscle, building!

Great trail, not easily accesible from plain city. Many families with younger children could enjoy the trail if it is finishaed and connected to P.C. Very difficult to bring two adult bikes and three children bikes to the start of this trail. Many of our friends with kids have never rode this wonderful trail because of this issue

When will trail be completed to plain city?

Article form Northwest News in December 2014 regarding new development in Hilliard, Oh. It appears the city is trying to tie in the bike trail with a new apartment development they are promoting (under construction in 2014)near downtown Hilliard called Landmark Lofts but it also takes the trail over busy Cemetery Rd. which is a step forward in expanding the trail deeper into Hilliard and closer to the cities to the east like Upper Arlington. Now if they could tie it in with their other new developments heading towards Dublin along Britton Parkway and through the new Gateway Development. Info from the article follows:

In addition, the Heritage Trail will be extended from its current terminus at Columbia Street. It will cross the Cemetery Road rail overpass and connect to the Hilliard Municipal Building property.
The extension will connect Landmark Lofts and the Old Hilliard business district.
"The Rails to Trails extension should be finished this summer," Mayor Don Schonhardt said.

He was referring to the summer of 2014. So all of this is an Eastern leg expansion.

I've ridden this trail for years. It is a pleasant, well maintained trail. I've used it as a way to ride safely out of the city until I could pick up country roads that have little traffic.

I wish they would extend it through Plain City. In town houses have been built on the former right a way of the railroad.

The Heritage rail trail

The Heritage rail trail is where I took up more than just neighborhood bike riding. I wanted a little more than just cruising around the neighborhood, so I heard about “Rails to Trails” and this is the first trail I explored. It was near (and a short bike path ride to Homestead park) down the road (Cosgray Rd) from the Hilliard YMCA which I support and belong to.

The path is flat and the pavement is smooth well maintained it’s a nice bike path, 6.1 miles long from end to end. It’s a good place to get accustomed to riding a bike again for us……more mature folks. Then it becomes just a nice place to get in a nice relaxing quite bike ride in away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are three crossings on rural lightly traveled roads.

The path is surrounded by flat farm land and A few horse stables(Please don’t feed the horses, sign is posted). The pathway has several benches along the way and is just a nice place to get away to from the city while really only being 15 to 20 minutes away.

It’s just a nice place to escape to and quietly ride. On windy days you will get a Westerly head wind!

Parking is ample, at either the Southern trailhead off of Main St. in downtown Hilliard(Makoy Center on Center St) or off of Cosgray road or Hayden Run road. There isn’t any parking at the Northern end of the trail. Even though there is an exit into downtown Plain city and close to the nearby Der Dutchman restaurant.

I’m glad I found this trail, It’s just a nice place to escape to for a quietly ride. It was a great place to become familiar with bike riding again!

This trail was the near eastern end of Conrail's 79mph freight main (and an occasional Amtrak National Limited detour route) through 1979. The Columbus-Dayton-Richmond single main was the PRR's "passenger line", and this double-track from Columbus through Bradford and back to Richmond was its "freight main." This line also headed straight west beyond Bradford to Chicago. I noted the following significant features relative to the trail's railroad heritage (The trail brochure doesn't even MENTION the railroad... Nor does the town trailhead! Egad!) For about two miles starting at the Hilliard Main Street trailhead, there are small, round metal signs posted in both directions, spaced 0.2mi. apart. On the signs, "PCC 550 STL" to "PCC 650 STL." The pre-PRR railroad heritage is obvious, as the "Panhandle" lines west of Pittsburgh "started out" as the Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Railway, but what is the purpose of these signs? Norwich Station, at Trail MP1.3, sports a beautiful Conrail N9 caboose, #18238, built in June of 1942, and a depot-like rest and soda machine facility, with a separate "station platform" rest structure. There is a little "tree museum" in a tiny board-and-batten, early Panhandle-style "interlocking tower"-like structure at Bradley Station parking area, at MP1.8. The real treat for ME, though, was the fully intact (save for wires) string of 2-arm telegraph poles on the south side of the trail, and corresponding line of 2-arm (one short arm above, one long arm below) cab signal poles on the north side of the right-of-way, between trail MP3.3 and 4 (A few more beyond MP4). Cab signals permit a continuous readout of signal conditions on a panel inside the engine that mimics the wayside signals. This still current modern mode of operation was pioneered by the Pennsylvania Railroad 60 years ago, and NS still uses the system on its still intact network ex-Pennsy lines east of here, but the wires are gone now... all satellite or underground cable. Sadly, the trail ends abruptly at MP6.1, just short of Plain City, at Cemetery Pike. (No wonder I couldn't find the trail in Plain City a year ago!) The campaign to extend the trail to Plain City has been a long, drawn-out one. This is a nice, smooth, flat, asphalt trail, well-used by bikers, hikers, runners, and roller bladers. It's lucky they saved it, because the residential encroachment on the east end is really serious... Lots of new and under-construction housing being built in this Columbus-west suburb.

This trail follows the route of the 1895 Pennsylvania Railroad from Old Hilliard to a dead end out toward Plain City. Park at the Center Street parking lot near the Makoy Center on the eastern end of the trail in the parking lot as there is no parking on the western end. Round trip from start to finish was logged by GPS as 12.3 miles. This is a long, very straight, and reasonably level section of the right of way that crosses several rural roads in well-marked crossings. The trail right of way has a thin row of bushes and a tree line on either side then wide expanses of open farm land beyond that. The only scenery to be found, other than open farmland, is the railroad station and caboose found in Cosgray Park less than a mile into the ride. The train station there was originally located at the eastern end of the trail where the parking lot is now.

This is literally a one-gear ride for cyclists. Aside from starting out, I stayed in one gear for an hour. The surface is smooth, clean, and free from cracks, ideal for cyclists, roller bladers, and strollers. I consider this trail particularly safe and it can be ridden at all hours.

Those who enjoy this trail may want to look into the Cinnamon Bun Delight ride that starts on this trail every Saturday morning, rides into Plain City for an Amish cinnamon bun or breakfast, then returns, increasing the round trip to 24 miles. I've done that ride once and was surprised by the number of riders who met for breakfast.

~ Trail Jogger ~

I've used the trail for a few years now and it is so nice to have a place to walk and ride my bike safely without traffic to worry about. Thank you.

"This is a great trail to use. I have ridden it from one end to the other. I am trying to generate support so that the trail can be safely accessed to and from the Plain City end. Please contact me via e-mail for more information, or visit my web site at http://home.columbus.rr.com/eagle0086/

Chris Johanson"

This 6.1 mile trail is fair. There are lots of scenic farms along the way. It ends near Plain City.

"Extraordinarily well maintained, but it's on the short side for riding (12.24 miles roundtrip). Weekday morning use was heavier than expected, but still far from crowded. Availability of ample parking suggests that weekend use is much heavier. Would be great if it were extended to the northwest...."

"Nice trail, but can be hard to get to. It is a few miles from the I-270 freeway loop. Trail users must drive through tons of traffic lights and the streets near the trail are narrow two-lane highways. The area is busy weekdays and choked with traffic."


"This is a very nice trail. It is about 6 miles long now. Also, it connects to trails in the Hoffman Farms subdivision that in turn connects to a trail that runs through Hilliard Municipal Park. Some very nice riding especially in the morning when there is a lot of small wildlife along the trail. "

This is an excellent trail! More people should take advantage of it. Very safe.

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