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The 29-mile Prairie Grass Trail is one of four rail-trails that radiate from Xenia Station, the hub of a vast, paved trail network in southwestern Ohio. The site is a former Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) freight yard and includes a local history museum that features information about the three railroads that once ran through the town: the B&O Wellston Subdivision and two lines of the Pennsylvania Railroad (the Little Miami branch and the Pittsburgh to St. Louis Main Line).
Today, rail-trails pass through Xenia Station on the converted rail corridors, traveling throughout the scenic Miami River Valley, as well as connecting to the cross-state Ohio to Erie Trail. This route, which includes the Prairie Grass Trail, will span 320 miles of trail from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland, allowing for endless exploration.
The paved Prairie Grass Trail travels between Xenia and London, generally following US 42. If you are interested in connecting to additional trails in Xenia, begin at the northern trailhead in London, located behind the senior center. Here, you’ll find a picnic pavilion, restroom, and a newly added camping area with a shelter house. The trailhead is located across town from the Roberts Pass Trail, which heads east toward Columbus.
Leaving London behind, the path becomes quite rural. You’ll find a corridor planted with natural prairie grasses and surrounded by flat, open farmland. In keeping with the prairie grass landscape, there are few trees, which makes it important to keep your water bottles full and sunscreen handy.
After 10.4 miles, you’ll reach South Charleston. As the route passes through town, it diverts onto sidewalks for 0.5 mile. A restored train depot highlights the South Charleston trailhead, which also offers picnic tables, water, and restrooms.
Almost 10 miles lie between South Charleston and Cedarville, and vast fields of corn and soybeans dominate the landscape. The route travels close to US 42 for much of the way and also shares the corridor with power lines owned by Dayton Power and Light (which allowed an easement on the corridor that made the path possible).
In Cedarville, the trail travels beside Massie Creek Park, which has parking, water, and portable restrooms. From here, the Prairie Grass Trail runs another 9 miles to its endpoint in Xenia. Just before the crossing at Murdock Road, 1.7 miles out of Cedarville, a couple of benches and a nice overlook provide a relaxing rest stop and views of a small creek and farmland. Also keep an eye out for monarch butterflies, which are prevalent in the area.
As you approach the town of Xenia, there is a busy crossing of Old US 35. The final mile or so has many road crossings; follow the well-placed signs. From the trail’s endpoint at Xenia Station, you can head west to Dayton on the Creekside Trail, east to Jamestown and beyond on the Xenia-Jamestown Connector, and south to Cincinnati or north to Springfield on the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
The trailhead in London, on the northeast end of the trail, is located behind a senior center, which allows overflow parking in its lot. From I-70, take Exit 72. Head south on OH 56/Urbana--London Road. In 4.7 miles turn right onto W. High St., then in 0.6 mile turn left onto Midway St. The trailhead is on the right. The senior center is 0.1 mile past Midway on US 42/High St.
To reach the Xenia Station trailhead on the southwestern end of the trail: From I-675, take Exit 13A and head east on US 35. In 9.1 miles exit onto US 42. Head north 1.2 miles, and turn right onto S. Miami Ave. Look for the restored depot on the left in 0.4 mile.
The Prairie Grass Trail is always one of our favorites! We rode the 18 miles out from Xenia to South Charleston and were pleasantly surprised to enjoy the 13 miles of NEW pavement from Xenia to the Greene County Line. Of the remaining 5 miles - only that last 1.5 - 2 miles into South Charleston has some marked "potholes" and root bumps - otherwise it is mostly smooth and enjoyable. This trail is mostly unshaded and super straight so heat and wind may be your only worries - but pick a nice and non-windy day and it is a glorious ride. This route is never crowded and the path is super wide too.
I rode the Prairie Grass Trail on October 4th as part of my southbound trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) route. I awoke that morning at the London, Ohio trailhead where I had camped the night before. The city of London and the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails have done a nice job of making a very friendly cyclists trailhead. There is an information/brochure kiosk in the picnic pavilion, water, electricity, a bathroom, 4 camping sites, and a bucket shower. One word of warning, if you camp here be aware that there are a number of trains that run through town at night and although the trailhead is not right on the tracks, you are close enough to the nearest crossing that if you're a light sleeper, I'm sure you will be awakened several times during the night.
The Prairie Grass Trail is a flat, straight trail that passes through large farms and the towns of South Charleston and Cedarville before arriving in Xenia. The ride between London and Xenia was fine, but slow, I think this was due to the accumulated effect of riding for 5 straight days and a slight but constant headwind. This headwind has been a constant on the Ohio to Erie Trail ever since heading out of Columbus, Ohio and into the farmland of the western middle of the state. (I believe that if you are going to ride the OTET only once, riding northbound might be the best bet as you will normally experience a tailwind between Xenia and Columbus based on the weather patterns of Ohio.
There are almost no turns in this 29 mile trail. There are a couple of dips and small undulations along this bikeway -- hardly enough to be called hills, but a bit of a departure from ultra flat rail-trails. The trail surface is asphalt which is in good shape. There is little in the way of tree cover as you ride through many farms.
South Charleston and Cedarville are much smaller towns than London and Xenia. South Charleston features a large grain elevator and at this time of year there were many grain cars on the rail sidings waiting to be filled. There is a short 1.1 mile on-road "detour" around the grain elevators and the movement of grain cars around that facility. South Charleston, has a nice trailhead that features bathrooms, parking, plenty of bike racks to chain up your bike(s) a picnic table or two, and a few train cabooses to remind you that you are riding a rail trail. You come into Cedarville on the south side of town. You pass by the Community Park, where it certainly looks like you might be able to camp there, but it is not something I have seen mentioned in any post or information about the town. As you reach South Main Street, you will see Hearthstone Inn & Suites which displays banners that they are bike friendly. The reviews I've seen for the place are positive. As with many of the towns along this western midsection of Ohio, the tree cover seems to thicken as you enter these towns. Xenia was not different. The trail comes to an end at Hill and Detroit Streets (Rt. 68) in Xenia. From here a widened sidewalk guides you through 2 crosswalks before you reach trail again on the edge of the Xenia Station grounds. When you reach Xenia Station a sign lets you know you are nearing the largest intersection of paved bikeways in the state of Ohio. In my opinion Xenia Station is also one of the prettiest old rail stations along any rail trail in the state of Ohio. The Prairie Grass Trail is very nice trail.
It's probably considered an extension of the Roberts Pass Trail, but is relevant for folk traveling N on this trail too: To pick up the Roberts Pass trail, you now turn left at Walnut instead of Maple rd. This is one block east of Main st (Only stop light if using express option.)
Rode it in its entirety today before too many trees have many leaves. Surface is in good/great shape, especially notable in Madison County (north). A cross wind was very noticeable both directions as there is very little to stop a breeze. Also very little to shade the trail and an early case of sunburned arms as a result. Few rest areas and water/bathroom stops --only in London, S. Charleston, Cedarville and Xenia, so be well stocked.
A very smooth and well maintained trail. Plenty of open vistas leave the sky visible most of the way, but offer little escape from the elements.
A friend and I rode this trail as part of a 12-day, 460 mile “Tour of Ohio Trails” – riding as much of the network of Miami Valley trails as we could. This trail is also part of the Ohio to Erie Trail and goes 29 miles from Xenia to London. The trail head is located across town from the Roberts Pass Trail, which heads east towards Columbus (which we also rode!). It is prairie/farmland near London and goes through some parks. The entrance to London is very cool with this incredible “bicycle” sculpture announcing that you are in London – in bright red. Very nice! This route has a couple of great places along the way: South Charleston (with a restored train depot—plus we stayed here in the Houstonia B&B – food was minimal in this town though – kind of limited to pizza and we are old enough to be well beyond pizza and hope for Salmon with bourbon glaze or something along those lines (salads with goat cheese and cranberries, etc. etc.). Cedarville: which is loaded with coffee shops and a University that is worth seeing – have never seen such beautiful landscaping at a University (other than Stanford, of course—we are from California). This trail offers more open farmland that some of the other trails in the network so I imagine that is might be uncomfortable in the summer. We were riding in Sept/Oct and it was absolutely lovely. There is access to water and restrooms along the way. Seems to me that it was never too far between restrooms! One crosses a lot of roads – but most aren’t a problem, there isn’t much traffic – and when there is, people in this area stop for bikers – especially if you are an old woman!
Only road out 15 miles, but will be back to complete the whole trail. This is a nice ride, long spots of shade for those hot sunny days, and not terribly busy.
The article below says they will be shutting down a section.
We just completed our first ride on the Prairie Grass trail to Xenia then on to Yellow Springs on the Little Miami trail. As in previous posts, we found the trail very well maintained and very scenic. The rest areas in London, South Charleston, Xenia, Yellow Springs, were clean and beautiful. We planned a 2 day ride (100mi.) Staying overnight in Xenia at Victoria's B&B and returned to London the next day. I would recommend Sunscreen, insect repellant, lots of water. The payoff; beautiful flowers, birds, swarms of butterflies, geocaches, smooth riding on well marked trails, friendly well-mannered cyclists. We give it 5stars!
September 2009. I rode the 18 miles from Xenia to South Charleston. A bit tricky finding the trail when you exit Xenia Station, signs do not mark it well. Once on the trail, you can not get lost. It is a very straight path, with a slight uphill most of the way.
The section from Xenia to Cedarville has a good amount of shade. From there to S. Charleston, is mainly open. The paved asphalt surface is in very good condition. Several restaurants and shops in Cedarville.
This is not as scenic as the Little Miami trail, but a nice ride.
"This trail is also known as Prairie Grass Trail. The asphalt portion as of Nov 2006 was 29 miles long and extended from Xenia to London. The asphalt part was in very good shape. The scenery is mostly open farmland on this trail. There is a gap on the trail from the west side of London to the east end of town with a well signed bike route to guide you. The trail east of London was a rough limestone gravel. If you are used to the finely crushed limestone used on the Katy Trail in Missouri or on many Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa or Nebraska trails, you will be disappointed by the roughness of the gravel. "
We rode from Xenia to South Charleston. This trail was nice but no bathrooms were open in South Charleston. They have a new building with bathrooms but it wasn't open yet. On the way back we stopped and had lunch at Cedarville Community Park. Ladies use the bathroom next to the trail at Cedarville. It is the only woman's bathroom my wife has seen with a urinal. A nice park.
"I love the Ohio to Erie Trail. I use it at least twice a week for cycle riding and various other times for walking or bike riding with other family or friends. We are very fortunate to have this and many other paved trails in our area.
I do have a complaint to address, however. East of Cedarville and west of Townsley Road, horse users are leaving horse dung on the path. I do not feel this is conducive to maximum use for the path as it is unsightly and unsanitary. If I continue to find this mess on the path I will have to consider recreation elsewhere.
I do realize this path is authorized as a horse riding path but question that as a legitimate use where walking, running, cycling etc. is desired and encouraged. I for one do not want to ride, walk, or jog through horse manure. "
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