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The Paint Creek Recreation Trail is the flagship pathway of a planned trail network in the Ohio counties of Fayette, Ross and Highland. Nearly 35 miles of paved trail are currently open linking the communities of Washington Court House, Frankfort and Chillicothe.
The vast majority of the trail occupies a former railroad corridor acquired by the local nonprofit trails group in 1994. However, the trail does leave the original corridor where the right-of-way could not be acquired from its current owners. These diversions are generally brief, with the longest a 2.5-mile on-road segment on the eastern edge of Washington Court House.
Because most of the trail passes through rural Ohio countryside dominated by seemingly endless farmland, trail users will be exposed for long stretches to the beating sun. Fortunately, the path occasionally winds through a more wooded corridor adjacent to local waterways, such as Paint Creek and the Scioto River.
The Paint Creek Recreation Trail also passes through the downtown areas of the three towns along the way, offering ample opportunities for rest and replenishment. Just before Chillicothe, trail users will want to stop in at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. The Hopewell Mound Group, a portion of the park visible from the trail along Sulphur Lick Road, features earthworks and burial mounds built by local indigenous peoples nearly 2,000 years ago.
In the future, the existing Paint Creek Recreation Trail will be just one of many local recreational and transportation assets. Plans are in the works to develop new trails along former railroad corridors from Washington Court House northwest to the existing Xenia-Jamestown Connector, southwest to Wilmington and east to Circleville in Pickaway County.
Parking for the Paint Creek Recreation Trail is available in Washington Court House at Christman Park on Elm Street or Sycamore Street. Northwest of Frankfort, limited parking is available at a trailhead at the junction of State Route 138 and County Road 29/Austin Road.
To access trail parking in Frankfort from US 35, take County Road 87 south towards Frankfort. Turn left at the first stop sign onto High Street, then turn right on Main Street at the next stop sign. Continue south on Main Street to the next stop sign and proceed straight ahead about .25 mile. Parking is on your left just before the bridge.
Just west of Chillicothe, parking can be found at the Hopewell Mound Group portion of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park near the intersection of Sulphur Lick Road and Maple Grove Road. In Chillicothe, park at the northern end of Tiffin Avenue; a trailhead on SR 104 south of US 35; or a lot on Poplar Street near the Scioto River.
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