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The North Coast Inland Trail will one day stretch across northern Ohio from Indiana to Pennsylvania on a network of connecting off-road trails. Today, large sections of the trail, especially from the Indiana border to Lorain County, Ohio, are well defined. One of these segments, a 19.3-mile route from Wakeman to Elyria, formerly known as the Oberlin Bike Path, is a popular and well-used trail. The other components of the North Coast Inland Trail are located in Lorain County and Sandusky and Ottawa counties.
The Lorain County trail follows the corridor of the former Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad along a paved pathway that offers a classic rail-trail experience: flat and mostly straight. Find the entrance to the trail on County Line Road (also called Green Street) at the Huron County border, less than a mile north of US Route 20, just east of the town of Wakeman. Enjoy a quiet ride through farmland for about 2 miles before reaching Kipton’s downtown community park. The park in Kipton has a porta-john and a gazebo. It also features a historic marker commemorating the Great Kipton Train Wreck. It was here in 1891 that two trains collided head on, resulting in eight deaths. The wreck was blamed on a train conductor’s watch, which was slow by 4 minutes and caused him to delay moving one of the trains to a separate track. Railroad officials hired prominent Cleveland jeweler Webb Ball to investigate railroad timekeeping and institute standards to avoid such accidents. Locals credit Ball’s capable work with the origin of the much-used idiom “on the ball.”
Heading toward Oberlin, open fields and farmhouses spread out again on both sides of the trail. Passing under an old railroad bridge, the trail empties briefly onto well-marked bike lanes on Hamilton Road, with the first glimpse of the Oberlin golf course alongside. In less than a mile, a left-right jog puts riders back on the path, which continues along the golf links. At the Professor St. crossing the beautifully restored Oberlin train depot comes into view. The site includes a grassy park and playground, outdoor exercise equipment, drinking fountains and picnic tables. (A side trip north on Ohio Rt. 58 puts one in downtown Oberlin with its many shops, restaurants, and Oberlin College.) The path continues east across Rt. 58 and within a few yards arrives at the George Abram Pavilion, newly opened in 2019, with picnic tables for 50, public restrooms (open April to November), twenty parking spaces, and a view of the historic restored Gasholder House, built in 1889 for Oberlin’s first street lighting.
Past Oberlin, the vista becomes rolling farmland, with herds of cattle and roaming horses, as well as rural homesteads. Birdlife along the way includes cardinals, turkey vultures, bluebirds, warblers, and vireos. This end of the trail has recently been extended and now continues to the Black River Reservation in Elyria. This trailhead provides restrooms and water fountains, as well as a connection to the Bridgeway Trail.
There is no parking at the western end of the trail. The Kipton trailhead has the closest available parking and is easy to reach. From the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), take Exit 135, and head south on Baumhart Road/County Road 51. In 1.3 miles turn right onto OH 113. In 1.4 miles turn left onto Vermilion Road, which becomes OH 511. Go 5.2 miles, and turn right onto Rosa St. Park on the right in Kipton Community Park. The end of the trail is 2 miles west.
To reach the Oberlin trailhead from the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), take Exit 140. Head south on OH 58 to downtown Oberlin. Go 6.4 miles to reach the parking lot on the right at the Oberlin Depot (240 S. Main St.).
There is an additional parking lot and portable restroom at the Butternut Ridge Rd trailhead, between Oberlin and Elyria.
To reach the northern end of the trail: From I-90, take Exit 148 for OH 254 toward Sheffield/-Avon. Follow OH 254 west 1.6 miles, then turn left onto W. River Road. In 1.5 miles turn left onto Midway Blvd., and continue straight (veering left) onto Ford Road. In 0.5 mile turn left into the Black River Reservation and the High Meadows Picnic Area parking lots.
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