I recently rode 18.73 miles on an out-and- back ride on the Sawmill Parkway Trail between the cities of Powell and Delaware, Ohio. This trail is an example of a trail type that is indicative of many midwestern cities, such as Columbus, Ohio, where surrounding once rural farming communities are transitioning into more developed suburbs. This trail is similar to other Columbus area trails such as the the Buckeye Parkway Multi-Use Path in Grove City and the Hellbranch Trail in Hilliard. It appears that the Sawmill Parkway Trail is destined to become the spine of a developing trail system between the communities of Powell and Delaware as this area of Delaware County transitions into a Columbus suburb. As you travel north on this trail you can see that it is much easier to put these trails in before open land is developed rather than trying to fit in a trail after an area has built up. Kudos to local government officials for being forward thinking. At present, the northern end of the trail is much more rural. Here, farm land is found on both sides of Sawmill Parkway, but there are already roadway cut-ins into these fields anticipating continued development of the land into future residential, retail, and commercial areas. As growth occurs, more trails will need to be built along the streets crossing Sawmill Parkway in order to create greater access for the area’s present and future residents in order to make the Sawmill Parkway Trail into a useful alternative transportation network.
As for the trail itself, it is a paved pathway that is in good shape, although the southern end in Powell is beginning to show its age. The trail itself crosses Sawmill Parkway twice, once at Big Bear Avenue in Powell and again at the US-42 intersection in Delaware. Definitely use the crosswalk call buttons at these crossings. Automobile traffic on Sawmill Parkway is heavier on the southern end of the trail from the shopping district to Olentangy Liberty High School. Extra caution should be taken at street crossings in this area by following pedestrian crossing signals. Starting with the Sawmill Parkway-Hyatts Road intersection, traffic lights have been replaced with roundabouts. There are five of these roundabouts along northbound Sawmill Parkway until you reach a final traffic light where the parkway runs into US-42 in Delaware. The trail’s street crossings at these roundabouts have been moved out from the center of the circles. Visibility is good for the trail users at these traffic circles but caution should still be practiced here, particularly when traveling south on the trail. This is because southbound cars could be turning right onto the street you’re crossing from behind your line of sight. Traffic becomes lighter as you enter more rural areas the further north you go along the trail. However, as the area along the parkway develops, traffic will become heavier and these crossings at the roundabouts may become more problematic.