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Holmes County, located in northeastern Ohio, is the heart of the state’s Amish country. Visitors to this rural enclave will find meandering country roads and bucolic natural areas, as well as the scenic Holmes County Trail. The path was the first recreational trail in the country designed to accommodate Amish buggies, and throughout much of the route it is just as common to pass a horse-drawn buggy as it is to pass a cyclist or walker.
The trail is currently open in two disconnected segments. The more southern of the two sections opened in late 2017 and stretches 7.3 miles between Gann (also known as Brinkhaven), at the border with Knox County, and Glenmont. At its western end, you can pick up the connecting Mohican Valley Trail, which heads towards Danville. If you travel east on the Holmes County Trail, when you reach the end in Glenmont, you'll have a gap of just over 7 miles to reach the next section of trail in Killbuck.
At the Killbuck trailhead, you'll find picnic tables and benches. The paved route, which continues for 15.7 miles north, has an adjacent path for equestrians; be sure to review the etiquette rules posted at the trailhead so you can share the trail safely with its myriad users.
As you travel north, follow the Killbuck Creek as the path traverses wetlands and long cutoff channels of the creek. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings before reaching Hipp Station in Millersburg. Here you will find a beautifully restored historical train depot, which serves as the trail’s headquarters with a visitor center featuring wildlife displays, trail information, restrooms, vending machines, a covered picnic area, and a playground.
The trail meanders north out of Millersburg at a very easy, even grade. The corridor passes picturesque swamplands for long stretches, and wildlife abounds among the water and trees. You will likely see turtles, snakes, and birds, including cardinals, doves, and hawks. Given the trail’s wet terrain, there are numerous stream crossings, including a couple over restored railroad bridges.
A well-designed square tunnel takes you underneath OH 83 at mile 6 just before the small town of Holmesville. When you enter Holmesville, you will follow quiet community streets about 1 mile until the rail corridor picks up again. The bypass is very well marked, and the streets are little used and easy to navigate. Once through Holmesville, the trail continues another 4 miles along a wonderful mixture of farm fields and tree-lined streams to the Fredericksburg trailhead and the trail’s north end, where you will find restrooms.
The trail began its life as a spur of one of Ohio’s earliest railroads, the Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and the tracks reached Millersburg in 1854. A catastrophic flood in 1969 washed out sections of railbed, leading to the end of the line’s use. Fortunately, with the conversion of the railway to a rail-trail, which opened in 2005, a new generation of users—bicyclists, walkers, in-line skaters, and horse and buggy riders—can now roll along this picturesque corridor.
The Holmes County Trail is also a vital component of the Ohio to Erie Trail, a developing 320-mile route, which will eventually span Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
To reach the southern trailhead in Killbuck: From I-77, take Exit 65, and head west on US 36. In 18.2 miles, turn right to remain on US 36. In 6.3 miles, turn right onto OH 60. Go 14.3 miles, and turn left then right onto Amish Country Byway, which becomes Main St. and County Road 622. In 1 mile, find the trailhead on your left next to a former train depot. Parking is available in downtown Killbuck on Front St., Water St., Main St., and north of the depot on CR 622.
To reach the Millersburg trailhead at Hipp Station: From I-77, take Exit 83 and head west on OH 39, which merges with US 62 and Jackson St. In 25.4 miles, turn right onto N. Grant St., follow it 0.1 mile, and then head west on W. Clinton St., which dead-ends at the Hipp Station trailhead.
To reach the Fredericksburg trailhead, from I-77, take Exit 87 and head northwest on US 250. In 3.2 miles, turn left to remain on US 250. In 10 miles turn left onto Harrison Road, which becomes Clay St. in town, and go 9.2 miles. Find the parking lot just past the elementary school next to the bridge and pavilion.
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