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The Marion Tallgrass Trail is a developing rail-trail which will extend from Marion westward on a former Erie Lackawanna Railway corridor. The line was part of the Erie Lackawanna’s main line that once stretched from northern New Jersey to Chicago but was abandoned by Conrail shortly after its acquisition of the distressed railroad.
Currently, the trail is paved for 3.7 miles from the large trailhead on Holland Road west to Espyville Road. This section is wooded and includes two restored railroad bridges. Near Herr Road, a large pond is immediately to the north of the trail, making it an excellent spot for bird watching. Indeed, bald eagles and trumpeter swans can often be found next to or above the trail, and there is a large beaver lodge in the center of the adjacent pond. In the future, the Marion County Park District plans on better incorporating the pond into the trail experience through the construction of an encircling walking path.
From Espyville Road to the trail’s current end at Agosta-Meeker Road, the trail has an unimproved surface best-suited for hiking only. This 3-mile section continues along the rail corridor through the Big Island Wildlife Area, offering even more opportunities to spot local flora and fauna. It’s anticipated that this portion of the trail will be paved during 2015.
As funding allows, the trail will be extended farther west to its ultimate planned terminus at the Marion–Hardin county line.
Parking can be found at the trailhead just west of Marion at 2093 Holland Road.
Parking is available at 4 locations:
Mile 0: A paved parking area is available at the Holland Road trailhead.
Mile 1.75: A grassy ODNR parking lot just south of the trail on SR 203.
Mile 3.7: The members of the Espyville Baptist allow trail users to park in their lot as long as church is not in session, reminding visitors that they are not responsible for vehicles left there.
Mile 8.4: A 19 car paved lot in DeCliff, where the trail crosses DeCliff Rd. Since DeCliff is an unincorporated village, the parking lot has a LaRue address: 7932 South St., LaRue, OH 43332
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