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The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is one of southeast Ohio’s hidden trail gems. Tucked into the foothills of Appalachia, this 20-mile trail gives a sampling of the best the Buckeye State has to offer: from college town amenities and atmosphere to scenic natural features and idyllic Midwest farmland.
The trail quietly begins in Ohio’s quintessential college town, Athens, home of Ohio University. Riding on a smooth asphalt surface, which will be enjoyed the entire length, you start behind a busy section of town with numerous businesses situated along State Street. After a few miles, you will pass the Athens Community Center and pool, then travel upon the levee of the Hocking River. Ohio University’s campus comes along the north side of the trail and creates a pleasant atmosphere, including close passage by the imposing Bob Wren Stadium, home of the Ohio Bobcats baseball team. The route continues through the west side of Athens about another 2 miles, passing West State Street Park with its impressive community gardens.
After you cross the bridge over the Hocking River, there is a noticeable shift from an in-town feeling to the solitude of quiet forest. Lush tree cover creates a tunnel-like effect for the vast remainder of the path, a pleasant respite on a hot summer day. As you meander in and out of the dense forest, openings in the trees frame classic farm field vistas, which, combined with rock outcrops, make this stretch of trail an absolute joy to experience. Common sights along the trail include deer, herons, snakes, and many more species. Adding visual interest to the experience, active railroad tracks are in close proximity to the trail the majority of the way, though train traffic is not frequent.
The very rural, natural setting is finally broken when you emerge onto the small campus of Hocking College outside Nelsonville. A couple of miles past the college, you will enter the town of Nelsonville itself. The path ends behind the Rocky Boots factory (founded in 1932) at a dedicated trailhead. Whether you begin or end your ride in Nelsonville, a visit to the historical town square, just a block from the trailhead, is highly recommended.
Plans are in the works to extend the trail another 1.5 miles east from its current southern endpoint. The new section, anticipated for completion in 2018, would continue the trail along the south side of US 50 to Canaan Road in Athens.
To reach the southeastern trailhead in Athens: From I-77, take Exit 176 for US 50. Head west 10.2 miles on US 50, and use the left lane to merge onto OH 32/OH 7/US 50. In 11.5 miles, keep right to stay on US 50. In 16.4 miles take the exit for E. State St. Head west 1 mile on State St. to find the trailhead on the left.
To reach the West State Street Park trailhead: Follow the directions above to OH 32/OH 7/US 50. Go 20.6 miles, and take Exit 17 for OH 682 and head north. In 0.4 mile turn right onto Richland Ave. In 0.2 mile turn left onto Shafer St. Go 1 mile and turn left onto W. State St. West State Street Park will appear in about a mile at the end of the road.
To reach the northern trailhead in Nelsonville: From I-70, take Exit 132 for OH 13. Head south on OH 13, and go 7.7 miles. Turn right onto OH 256, and go 1.7 miles. Turn left onto OH 664. In 10.8 miles, turn right to stay on OH 664, and go 11.3 miles. At the second traffic circle, take the third exit (essentially turning left) for US 33 eastbound. In 11.4 miles take the exit for John Lloyd Evans Memorial Dr. Turn right onto John Lloyd Evans Memorial Dr., and go 0.5 mile. At the traffic circle, take the second exit (turning left) for W. Washington St., which becomes W. Canal St., then Old US 33 in the heart of Nelsonville. In 1.1 miles take a right onto Hocking St. (Myers St.); the trailhead is on the right in the parking lot behind the large Rocky Boots factory.
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