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The 14-mile Kokosing Gap Trail travels through a landscape of ravines and farmland and passes a beautifully restored train and a cheerful wood caboose. This outstanding trail connects the towns of Mount Vernon, Gambier, Howard and Danville on a smooth asphalt surface with park benches about every half mile. The gap between each community is about 4 miles, give or take.
Starting at the trailhead in Mount Vernon, the first part of the trip takes you along the sunken valley of the Kokosing River. Heading east you pass one of several overlooks of the river and surrounding valley and take two old railroad trestles across the river. The bridges have been meticulously restored and are well worth a stop to admire the handiwork. Shortly after crossing the first bridge you reach the Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon College. A visitor center and a butterfly garden beckon you to take a break and come in for a self-guided tour through this wonderful garden area.
In Mount Vernon, the trail also connects to the Downtown Connector Trail, which runs a mile across town to meet up with the Heart of Ohio Trail, which heads west to Centerburg. All three trails are part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, a planned 320-mile route that will eventually span Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
Where the trail intersects busy State Route 229 and enters Gambier, you will want to pay close attention for a safe crossing. Gambier is home to Kenyon College, and after passing the campus of this distinguished liberal arts school, you can't miss Gambier Station and its four train cars, a locomotive, tender, flat car and caboose.
Howard, like the rest of the towns along the Kokosing Gap Trail, provides notable diversions. The trailhead has a parking lot, restroom and a playground donated by the Rotary Club. Just after an arched stone passage under US 36, an incredible old barn towers over the trail. Another bridge provides views of a smaller tributary that flows into the Kokosing River, and the trail soon opens up again onto farm fields and pastures. After about a mile more you are back among trees, but you periodically get to peek out of the gaps in the forest to see the farm fields in the distance.
There are only four quiet back roads that give pause in the final 3.5 miles until trail's end in Danville. In early morning and twilight hours vintage-like streetlamps shed light on your journey near the Gambier trailhead.
All of the towns along the route provide trailheads with parking and seasonal facilities. The Mount Vernon trailhead is on Mount Vernon Avenue. From Interstate 71 take State Route 61 north for 1.8 miles. Turn right onto State Route 229, which becomes US 35 in Mount Vernon. After about 17 miles turn right onto State Route 13 (South Main Street) and go 0.6 mile; turn left onto Mount Vernon Avenue. The trailhead is on the right side after Cougar Drive just under 1 mile down the road.
To reach the Danville trailhead take US 36 to US 62 (Millersburg Road) north and go 3.3 miles. Turn left onto West Washington Street; after just over 0.1 mile take a right onto South Richards Street. The trailhead is on the left.
This is one of the best trails I have biked in Ohio. No kidding. It's got so much variation and surprise the entire route is interesting. The high point was stopping at the Kenyon College garden at the Brown Family Environmental Center. It's located just off the trail after passing Gambier going toward Mt. Vernon from Danville. The flower garden is quite stunning and I highly recommend spending some time there. If the 26 or so miles round trip is not quite enough, you can link to a couple of other trails in Mt. Vernon. Definitely worth the drive from Cleveland.
It was beautiful trail with plenty of trees, benches, deer but very few "friendly" people! It was funny because my husband and I thought it would be the opposite but, ... sorry, it wasn't! It was a beautiful ride from Danville to Gambier until the return ride and my son lost his phone. So, we went back to Gambier and he went towards Howard and he only found the battery and the back of his battery cover on the bunch that someone put there! (That was one friendly & thoughtful person!) :)
Besides from that; the ride was good! The train was really cool, the restrooms were very clean! And, this rest stop even had a little bicycle repair set up kit! It was really nice!
Loved the wooded areas! Crisp and cool!
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.
Kokosing Gap Trail, Heart of Ohio Trail and Mohican Valley trail seamless connections making it over 30 miles total length. We completed all 3 trails in one day, reviewing separately on TrailLink.
We parked in Mt. Vernon at mile 0 and rode the Kokosing Gap Trail to Danville. Several iron bridges, and smaller bridges. Through Farmlands.
Old train display in Gambier. Neat very short tunnel in Howard. Asphalt paved trail in good condition.
Rest area in Gambier at the Athletic Center, rest stop in Howard and ended up in Danville. Small Danville offers services such as a sandwich shop and Dollar Store.
We took sandwiches because we weren't sure of the food situation.
Mile markers along the trail as well as mileage signs.
Once in Danville we muddled through town (it's very small and there are signs) we made the connection to the Mohican Valley Trail.
Coming back through Mt. Vernon we hooked up to the Heart of Ohio Trail through Ariel Foundation Park.
Several Parking areas on the trail. All around thumbs up on this one!
The Wayne County Impact Biking Division ranks this trail as #4 on our "north of I-70" best trails list. This is a scenic trail with lots of bridges and benches. We liked the train and the neat stone bridge. While there were a lot of people using this trail not many of them were as friendly as people we've seen on other trails. Twice we had to stop as people were blocking the trail as they talked. Still a nice trail and WCI will be back in the fall to check it out again.
This is a wonderful trail that is all asphalt, no hills, all forest, and with sites to see along the way such as a well kept garden open to the public and old trains along the way for kids to climb on and look into.
It may be hot outside, but not on this trail since it is all covered with trees.
Took my first ride down the Kokosing Gap trail and had a wonderful time. Great scenery and lots of wildlife to look at not to metion the Kokosing River itself. This was an easy ride even for an inexperienced rider. Plenty of places to stop and rest and the restroom facilitys are clean and plentiful. Great place to take a family. It was even more special for me because I got to experience it with my brother. Looking forward to my next trip!
Took my first ride on the Kokosing trail today and was not disappointed. The trail was well maintained and meandered thru the rural Central Ohio countryside.
The scenery was gorgeous and the facilities availability along the trail were excellent. Highly recommended.
This trail offers a great outdoor experience for any age. You'll find ample benches and overlooks as the trail crosses the river and its tributaries. Both trailheads are in parks that offer drinking fountains. The trail is also blazed with half-mile markers.
We rode from the trail head in Mt Vernon for a 15 mile round trip. It's great, especially the facilities stop in Gambier. All good.
With a flat, mostly shaded path, it's such a great ride and with several stops along the way, it's a perfect afternoon ride. My kids love to stop and play on the train. It's quiet with a river that runs along for part and away from the road. It's not very crowded which we love. We've done this trail several times. It's our favorite
I rode from Howard to Mount Vernon and back. This trail is one of the best in Central Ohio. Many Thumbs up
Missed the official opening of spring trails due to ice on trail. Trees starting to bloom, grasses are turning green, air is crisp, sky is blue and we are back in the saddle again. Great trail, well maintained and always a delight.
Rode this trail for second time starting in Mount Vernon's Phillips Park to Danville and back. The trail is mostly shaded which makes the ride much cooler.
In Danville The Hangout restaurant/ice cream place is near. Turn right at trail's end and take the first left to Route 62. Look right and it is across the street. Danville is on the southern end of Ohio's largest Amish community. There to greet us was a horse and buggy at the Danville end. Other people have mentioned about the Gambier facilities and about Howard. There are some picnic tables in the shade that looked inviting. Bring food and enjoy a break.
In Mount Vernon we have enjoyed the food and beer at Flappers located just off the town square.
We were in the area from Michigan to ride Kokosing and Heart of Ohio over Memorial Day 2014. It wasn't until we road both that we figured out they are only a mile apart in Mt. Vernon and that we could have ridden city streets to connect. Kokosing is well paved, wider than what we have ridden in Illinois and Michigan, and never more than a 2% grade. The college stop at Gambier has water and restrooms and a photo op at the train, but not much else unless you want to climb up to the town. Skip it and come back by car. Good restaurant in the town. We missed the places to stop at Howard on our way to Danville but on the return found a couple of places for food and drink right above the arch and Rotary park. It's an easy walk up the access road so you don't have to leave your bikes below. Danville trailhead had a mini-mart a block away, but we never found the ice cream store on rt 62. If you go on through the town you can pick up the Mohican Valley Trail, but I can't speak to it.
I recommend Kokosing for a nice, flat, mostly shaded ride, especially in the morning with the sun in the east - southeast.
We live just a few miles from this trail, and have used it frequently. The most beautiful section of the trail is between Mount Vernon and Gambier, where the trail runs alongside the Kokosing River, including crossing the river twice on long bridges. But even the sections from Gambier to Howard and Howard to Danville are very nice. Most are wooded, but there is some open farmland.
The park in Howard has playground equipment for children, and the Depot in Gambier has an old train that children can climb on.
The trail is relatively flat for its entirety, except for between mile marker 5.5 and 4.5, where there is a noticeable but not difficult grade.
This trail is maintained by volunteers, and they do a tremendous job.
We biked from Mt Vernon to Danville and were pleased to find the Rt 62 Drive-In just a short ways from the trail's end. (Turn right then left and you'll see it on Rt 62). It was the perfect spot to have some ice cream before doing the return trip. A well-maintained,paved trail with great views of Ohio farmland and late summer wildflowers when we rode in late August.
We loved everything about this trail! Well paved and beautiful scenery...and what we liked most is the only sounds we heard was that of nature. This trail follows the Kokosing River and is shaded most of the way. Enjoyed riding through Kenyon College in Gambier. Great place to stop and use the rest rooms.
When we arrived in Danville, we found a quaint restaurant called The Wagon Wheel and stopped for lunch. Great pie!!!
Can't wait to ride this trail again....
Have been on numerous bike trails, this one is without a doubt the best to date.
Thanks to those that maintain this trail so well.
Historical background on this trail can be found in my review of the MOHICAN VALLEY TRAIL. Railroad historians will give this trail 5 stars, as not much railroad hardware has been removed in the process of the beautiful preservation of this right-of-way. Most notable are the classic Cleveland & Pittsburgh mother road heritage mile markers. On most rail-trails, one would be fortunate enough to find a scant few railroad mile markers. On this trail, starting from Trail Milepost 0 at Mount Vernon, you will encounter cast iron mile markers H98, H97, H95, H93, H91, H89, H88, and unmarked H86, at the appropriate one mile intervals, beginning at Trail Milepost 0.8. Unique about these markers is that prefix letter. "H" marked distances from Hudson, Ohio, where this branch line joined into the Pittsburgh-Cleveland main line for the remainder of the train journey from Columbus to Cleveland. Most Pennsylvania Railroad mileposts did NOT include those prefix letters. Please respect these historic gems. It is apparent that people are desecrating many of them by attempting to removed those screwed-on letters and numerals, or by using them for target practice. Sadly, many of them are in pretty bad shape. Other than those mile markers, there are a few telegraph poles near MP98, two really nice steel thru-truss spans at Trail MP1.4 and 4.0, and classic concrete PRR whistleposts for the grade crossings east of that beautiful collection of railroadiana at Gambier. I particularly enjoyed the classic "Columbus 50-1/2 Miles / Hudson 94-1/2 Miles" sign on the "trailroad station" at Gambier. This was the way those old depots were signed in the early days of these railroads. The US-36 overpass stone "tunnel" at Howard (MP-H90 removed) is really nifty. Note the builder's plate on the steel thru-truss span 2.6 miles east of Howard... "American Bridge Company of New York USA 1910." As I state in my Mohican Valley Trail review, it is astounding how this busy, flat, paved, and well-groomed Kokosing Trail is so very different from its eastward continuation from Danville. Like two different worlds. -Rich Ballash - 11/18/2012.
I am out of state, but rode this trail 8 times in three years. The trail is in perfect condition, tree shaded, follows the river, and has many wildflower and animal sightings. This trail is always worth the long haul to get there. I usually start at Kenyon College to Danville for an ice cream and then back past Gambier to Mt. Vernon.
My girlfriend and I rode this trail November 12th, 2011. Started at the Mount Vernon Trailhead, and rode the entire length to Danville. Along the way are numerous bridges that span the Kokosing River and many creeks that feed the river. We stopped at the Gambier Station area, (restrooms and a sign in book are there). Some photos of the old station are there and some history, I wish the photos were dated though. We continued on to the next stop of Howard, there is an arch bridge there that covered the old rail system. The red barn that is adjacent to the bridge is original to the area, not sure of the age as the photos there do not say. A resident of the area on the trail told us the path with a rail alongside it on the west side, went to the hotel that was there back in the day. The original hotel is no longer there needless to say. No photos of the hotel are there, but the photos show the old barn and the old station. We continued on to the last stop, Danville. Once in Danville we rode to South Market Street which is just a bit off the trail near a Marathon Gas Mart. On the same road is a gun shop, and a BBQ place called Porky's BBQ. It has only been there for about four months we were told by the waitress. We stopped in and had pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, and home made cucumbers and onions. Excellent BBQ and very good prices, we highly recommend this as the place to eat if you ride the trail. Many places along the way to take great pics, nice stops with bathrooms.
With mid to high sixties forecast for November 11th and 12th 2010, I planned my two day biking adventure, left Oberlin, Ohio and arrived in Mt. Vernon at 3:00p.m. on Thursday to take my first ride of six miles before lodging at the Russell-Cooper House in Mt. Vernon. Oberlin, Ohio sports a beautiful 14 mile rail trail, but I found myself jealous not having the Kokosing Gap Trail in my home city.
Throughout the length of the trail I found very friendly walkers, and cyclists abounding. Even though I had missed the fall peak was incredibly beautiful and still spotted with bright colors. I quickly realized my mistake in not arriving early my first day. So setting out early Friday the 12th, I cycled from Mt. Vernon to Howard and back. The way the river meanders along side the trail and under the tressels that cast beautiful plays of light. The Gambier stop with it's restored locomotive, coal box and caboose sitting along the trail as if it has just pulled into load passengers waiting on the benches under a wonderful line of shepherd hook lampposts. The stop at Howard is no less awe inspiring. Sitting down below the upper road, the grist mill, vibrant red, looms next to a magnificent tunnel weathered to perfection.
As I had planned other sight-seeing on Friday, my time was limited so I sadly opted to not bike further on to Danville with the promise to myself of making another trip, maybe in the spring, to experience that part of the trail as well.
This trail truly has it all and it is very obvious the love and dedication the people of these communities have put into this magnificent trail through donations.
I was in Mt. Vernon for the Knox County Fair and had wanted to cycle the Kokosing Gap Trail. I had too much fair food and needed to cycle it off. It was perfect cycling day with temps in the high 70s and sun. The trailhead was easy to find, had plenty of parking and was very clean. Actually, this trail is super clean and very well maintained. The surface is asphalt and the elevation hardly changes at all. I can see why I passed many inline skaters on the trail.
The trail is also quite cool. It is shaded almost its entire length. The first 4 miles parallel the Kokosing River which meandered across 3 times. Beautiful iron railroad bridges carried me across the water. If you plan to cycle this trail, watch for the sign for the Kenyon College Environmental Center at about 3.5 miles. The college has a huge perennial garden that cyclists are invited venture through. I did on my return trip and highly recommend it. This trail has a lot of wild flowers growing along its edge. There is an abundance of buckeye trees too.
At about 5 miles I cycled in Gambier. The trailhead bordered the edge of the Kenyon College athletic complex and fields. This is a super nice trailhead. There were clean restrooms, a steam locomotive and cars that you are invited to explore. A shaded picnic area was an inviting area to rest.
While resting in Gambier I chatted with an elderly gentleman at the station. He gave me the low down on Gambier. Alas, I was not to see the actual town unless I cycled off the trail and up a hill to the campus and village. I did not have the time to take this detour on this trip. He did give me some good tips on the trail east of Gambier.
Howard was the next village I crossed through. There was a very scenic barn along the trail. I am pretty certain it was most likely a feed mill and freight station for the rail line. My Gambier friend told me to exit the trail, cycle up the hill and visit the ice cream stand. I did on my return trip. Here’s my tip for Howard if you cycle this trail. At the top of the hill you will be on Route 36. There was a very tasty BBQ joint with smokers and cold beer. Adjacent to it is the Ice Cream Station, an old converted 60s gas station. I opted for ice cream. I had a slaw dog and an amazing red velvet cake hand dipped ice cream milkshake. Take my advice, stop in Howard for ice cream or BBQ.
Past Howard, the trail was pretty much standard Ohio rail trail. Most people opt to turn at Howard and return to Mt. Vernon. I ventured on to Danville which was probably about another 5 miles. This portion of the trail crosses farm land and is partially shaded. The landscape is pretty run of the mill. The trail ended at nice trail head in Danville just off of U.S. Route 62. I turned at the trailhead and cycled back to Mt. Vernon. Total distance was 27 miles of cycling.
I thoroughly enjoyed this trail. I highly recommend it for any rail trail cyclist. It is definitely one of the best maintained trails and has interesting scenery and attractions along the way.
Had a blast on this trail. Time flies on this trail due to plenty of places to stop and beautiful scenery. Can't wait to go back!!
Only thing I didn't like is the digging they are doing just before you get to Mt. VU. It's creates dust that you cant help but breathe it in and they are destroying a good part of the scenery.
The trail begins in Mount Vernon, Ohio and of course heads south, south east, non-stop into a very small town called Danville. The entire 14-miles is paved, some of which (2009) is rather new pavement. Once in Danville I suggest you ride into town, about a half mile or so, and grab a drink, "liquid bread", or a snack. If you wish the trail picks back up on the other side of town, but there it is no longer paved, but is still good if you have a tour bike of sorts.
This trail shoots through the meandering Kokosing River, which you find over the several bridges you will ride over -- some of the bridges have covered wooden seating areas right beside the river -- just a beautiful place to take a short break and enjoy the sites of the river side. If you pack a lunch, and start to ride from Mount Vernon, about 10 or 11 miles down the trail there will be a little area with picnic tables you can sit at and enjoy your lunch... they also have a necessary-room, and a drinking fountain, but I would still bring your own beverages just in case the fountain is off. The location of the picnic stop area is just before the road tunnel you see in the photos attached to this link... it is a stones throw away from the tables.
Enjoy this wonderful trail, and if you ride in the early evening you might see deer crossing the trail -- please be aware of this.
Enjoy your ride, be it serious race bikes at a fast pace, or a leisure tour bike at a crawl, either way I guarantee a great time!
Get out there and ride.............................
"Today was the first time I rode this trail. I started from Mt. Vernon and rode all the way to Danville and back again. This was a fun, comfortable ride with great scenic views. This should be a great ride for fall color later in the season. "
"Great paved, shaded trail through beautiful Ohio. About an hour each way. Danville is like stepping back in time."
"I rode this trail in late June. It is almost completely new pavement, smooth and fast. The trail stays away from roads and is almost entirely shaded. AAAA+++++"
"I rode this trail about a month ago; it was my first trail ride since buying my new bike -- at 62 years of age. It is a terrific trail; the slope is gradual, scenery beautiful and the amenities -- train engine & caboose, rest rooms, children's playground -- make it truly a family treasure.
Enjoy it whether you bike, walk, jog or roller-blade. You will be glad you did!"
"I first discovered the Kokosing Gap trail as a student at Kenyon College from 1995-1999 and spent many a day on this BEAUTIFUL trail. Each mile of the trail has its own personality, and the scenery is simply breathtaking.
I recently heard a Kenyon student cite the Gap Trail as a big reason she chose Kenyon. As a runner, she said running on the Kokosing was as close to a religious experience as she had ever had! I simply love the Kokosing Gap Trail. It is by far one of the best thing in the state!"
My husband and I enjoy kayaking so this trail is great for that. We kayak the Kokosing River from Mt. Vernon to Howard (12 miles) and then ride our bikes back on the trail to pick up our car (10 miles). Allow about 5 hours depending on the river level.
"I rode this wonderful trail on a misty morning of June 11, 2003. It should be renamed the Chipmunk Trail as there was one of the little fellows every 50 feet! They would sit on the edge of the trail, in the middle, and run out in front of me. You could tell the slow ones by their shorter tails. Some of them are making their nests in holes under the trail. I hope that's not going to cause problems down the road.
After seeing about 30 school kids start out on the trail in Mt. Vernon before I got the bike off the car I thought the trail might be crowded but by the time I got on the trail they were no where to be seen. I had the trail all to myself all the way to Danville. The trail crosses the river on old steel arch tressles or 4 times and follows the river through half the trip to Danville.
On the way back I caught up with the kids in Gambier and threaded my way through them on the ride back to Mt Vernon. They were having fun ride in the last week of school in spite of the mist.
My son and I had ridden the Little Miami the weekend before and the Silver Comet in GA in April but I think tis was the prettiest trail so far. Maybe it was the chipmunks keeping me company."
"Well, I have to say this is my favorite trail along with the Ohio Rail To Trails (Clinton to Massilon Section). Nice, level land throughout (14 miles total) with plenty of benches and rest stops (bridges). Mile Markers appear every .5 miles.
If you start in Danville, you'll be treated to a beautiful rural forest type setting with plenty of bridges, that eventually turns into a farm type setting. Plenty of shade throughout. As you enter Howard, you cross under a beautiful tunnel/bridge with a nice childrens play area after you cross under it.(Briefly) The next stop is Gambier. This part of the trail passes through Kenyon College and begins to become less rural.
Interestingly, there is an old steam engine, coal car and caboose alongside the trail. The trail ends in Mt Vernon at a rest area. Initially, I cycled through this trail on a bike on a Monday. Traffic was very minimal. However, I went back on a Sunday and hiked it (one way) and it was quite trafficky as I left the Danville side. Best to go on a weekday if you can. If you live far away, (60+ miles) as I do, I suggest you at least give a try. You'll probably want to go back soon after!"
"The Kokosing Gap Trail provides a wonderful experience with the expected country side beauty coupled with a number of unique features. The trail is beautifully maintained and has a very gentle (unnoticeable) grade. The largely tree-lined trail follows the Kokosing river as it meanders through beautiful farm land and small villages.
In Gambier the trail features a ""rail station"" shelter house with clean restrooms and a beautifully restored steam locomotive (an 0-6-0 switcher, climb on and ring the bell!)and a spectacular old caboose.
Several bridges with interesting overlooks of the river, and direct access to the Kenyon College Nature Center, are also plesent stops.
Overall, the Kokosing Gap Trail is the best trail we have been on and it will be spectacular as the fall foliage colors appear."
My husband and I biked this trail over Memorial Day Weekend 2002. It was beautiful. We parked in Mt. Vernon and biked about 10 1/2 miles of the trail. It was in great condition and the scenery was breathtaking. Definitely a route to do again. Thanks.
"I highly recommend the KGT to anyone who enjoys being in a peaceful, scenic, rural setting and prefers an uncrowded path. I love it for rollerblading - great surface. I usually see deer and beautiful birds. Be sure to visit Kenyon College when you get to Gambier for great Gothic architecture and a gorgeous campus!"
"I rollerblade or cycle on this trail on a daily basis almost all year round. It's very well maintained, it's always pretty and I enjoy seeing the wide variety of wildlife: snapping turtles laying eggs, near-sighted deer, bunnies galore, stately great blue heron, red-tailed hawks, even the occasional snake or weasel. Additionally, the ""train station"" in Gambier features a real engine and caboose with old fashioned station lights to complete the scene. My hat is off to the volunteers who do such a great job of cleaning, enhancing and maintaining this trail."
"Over the last 4 years, I have enjoyed the Kokosing Gap trail to run on through the year, and to rollerblade in the summers. The water fountains in Gambier, Mount Vernon and Howard make those long skates on hot days far more enjoyable. I also love the railroad theme of the trail, bringing back the original train aspects of the area. The restored C&O 90776 caboose is beautiful and the new railroad theme lights make it a great place to go in the evenings as well. I am looking forward to the adition of a steam locomotive, rumored to be coming soon. "
"In 16 months I have either walked or biked 258 miles of the Kokosing Gap Trail, and I love it more every time I am on it. The woods, the farmland and the Kokosing River make this a very special place in beautiful Knox County."
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