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Seamlessly spanning the 35.5-mile distance between the Ohio communities of Bellefontaine and Springfield, the Simon Kenton Trail presents visitors with ample opportunities for recreation and wildlife sighting throughout its entire length. In reality, though, the uninterrupted trail—named for the famous frontiersman who once lived nearby—is composed of two very distinct experiences with the metaphorical dividing lining at Urbana. North of the city, the trail is chipseal and rural; from Urbana southward, you’ll experience a busier, paved pathway.
The trail’s north end begins in Bellefontaine, a small city where Ohio’s highest point can be found. Those accustomed to mountains may be left unimpressed by Ohio’s flat peak, and like all rail-trails, the Simon Kenton Trail slopes only gradually, as the corridor once had to accommodate the needs of the many freight and passenger trains that ran through here. In fact, the 16 miles from Bellefontaine to Urbana run immediately adjacent to a still-active rail line.
On this northern 16-mile stretch, farmland reaches out as far as the eye can see. Even those accustomed to long rail-trail treks will likely work up a sweat in the direct Ohio sun. Amenities are limited, so be prepared with ample amounts of water. The small town of West Liberty offers an opportunity for a rest or bite to eat; turn left onto Runkle Street to access the charming community’s downtown.
Entering Urbana, the trail’s surface turns to smooth pavement and trees begin to envelop the corridor, providing much welcomed shade. Near the center of town, the Depot Coffee House, in a restored train station adjacent to the trail, serves a wide selection of refreshments, as well as a publicly available parking lot, restrooms, drinking fountains, and a fix-it station for quick bike repairs. From here, a spur trail heads northwest to provide access to local parks and the city’s YMCA.
Proceeding south from Urbana, you’ll be pedaling on a gradual downhill slope. As you approach Springfield, homes, businesses, and schools begin to line the route, though the corridor’s surrounding tree cover is maintained for nearly the entire length. The larger population is noticeable here, as this section sees much heavier traffic than the northern portion. Nearing the city center, you’ll cross Buck Creek, where you can pick up the scenic Buck Creek Trail on the far side of the bridge. The trail spans just over 6 miles and heads both east and west along the eponymous waterway.
The Simon Kenton Trail ends in downtown Springfield in front of the Heritage Center, a gorgeous building that once served as both city hall and a marketplace and is now home to a charming café and the Clark County Historical Society. Stop in at the end of your trek to view both the impressive architecture and vast collection. From here, the Little Miami Scenic Trail is just a block away; turn left at South Center Street to reach it. Spanning almost 80 miles, the trail provides access to the artistic community of Yellow Springs, the trail hub of Xenia, and the suburbs of Cincinnati.
To reach the northern endpoint in Bellefontaine from I-75, take Exit 110. Head east on US 33, and go 11.6 miles. Turn right to remain on US 33, and go 12.9 miles to the exit for County Road 37. Turn right onto CR 37, and in 0.1 mile, turn left onto CR 130. In 4.8 miles, turn right onto Troy Road, and go 1 mile. Turn left onto Plumvalley St., and in 0.3 mile, turn right onto Carter Ave. The trailhead is located on the right, 0.2 mile ahead.
To reach the halfway point in Urbana from I-75, take Exit 82. Head 24.8 miles east on US 36 into downtown Urbana. A large trailhead and parking lot are located adjacent to the Depot Coffee House between Glenn Ave. and Washington St.
The southern endpoint is located at the Heritage Center in downtown Springfield, but parking there is limited. Instead, park at the trailhead on Villa Road north of downtown. To reach the trailhead, take I-70 to Exit 52B. Head north on US 68, and go 7 miles to the exit for OH 334. Turn right onto OH 334, stay in the right lane, and in 0.2 mile take the first ramp onto OH 72, heading south. After 1 mile, turn left onto Villa Road. Parking is located on the right after 0.3 mile.
Three and a half stars Rode Simon Kenton trail from Bellefountaine to West Liberty and back (14 mile round trip). It is a seal and chip surface in very good condition done in 2018 (https://www.simonkentonpathfinders.org/about/). It is a rail-to-trail so it is basically flat. The trail runs alongside a set of train tracks - as noted in other reviews - no shade except in the late afternoon / evening. Not anything particularly attractive about the trail other than a new place to ride.
I rode from Urbana to Bellefontaine and back today. It's a nice trail. Most of it is shaded, which compares favorably to Hilliard's Heritage Trail, and parts of the Ohio to Erie, such as Cedarville to South Charleston. It's probably pretty when it is in bloom, but it's still a bit too early in the year for that with our late spring. Still, it was a very calm ride, with only two other riders and a couple hikers spotted on the entire section, out-and-back, and all near Bellefontaine.
The surface is mostly chip-and-seal (other than 1.5 miles north of Urbana), which is fine, and kicks up much less dirt than crushed limestone, for those who haven't ridden chip-and-seal before. There is one rough spot on the paved section just south of where the chip-and-seal ends, and for the first couple miles north of Urbana you have to keep an eye out for railroad spikes on the trail, but otherwise the condition of the trail is good.
There's a well-reviewed coffee shop by the trail in Urbana, and several restaurants that look promising in Bellfontaine, including a brewery that you'll find if you continue north of the northern end of the trail on the dirt trail that continues to parallel the railway for another block, and then follow the bike route signs towards town.
Along the way, if you're paying attention, you'll see some unusual animals for Ohio trails, specifically goats and what I'm pretty sure are elk. Although Wikipedia will tell you there are no elk in Ohio, I counted eight of them visible from the trail, and my research indicates they are likely domestic elk at a farm that neighbors the trail. Now I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out exactly where they are. You might want to start soon - once the leaves are out it might be much more difficult to see them.
Overall, I'd put this slightly above 4/5. It's not as picturesque as central Ohio's top trails - the Kokosing Gap and Alum Creek Trails - but I'd put it above the Heritage, Camp Chase, and Ohio to Erie west of London. Worth the drive if you're looking for somewhere new to explore, and keep an eye out for the elk.
Nice crushed stone surface. Went Bellefontaine to West Liberty, very quiet and peaceful. Received a wonderful frog serenade when passing a wetlands area! What a treat.
My wife and I read the reviews before starting out in Bellefontaine and were pleasantly surprised at how smooth the chip & seal trail was. The first few miles the scenery is nothing exceptional but once you get away from town and closer to West Liberty it opens up to beautiful rolling farm fields and woods which is spectacular in the fall. I would recommend starting out in West Liberty (there is a parking lot for access to the trail off SR 245) and riding the 10 miles to Urbana. The Depot Coffee shop is right off the trail as you enter Urbana and a welcome stop before continuing south or the return trip to West Liberty. We're looking forward to completing the ride from Urbana to Springfield on our next trip! My wife and I are in our 60's and healthy but not avid cyclists. The trail is flat and rides easily. It's a hidden gem and a wonderful way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon.
Bellefontaine-Urbana Completed this portion with my daughter. The tar and chip was much nicer than I expected. (Fine chip and well compacted). Only bad part was a stretch with deer flies.
Rode from Bellfontaine to about 2 miles West Liberty. Only encountered about 5 other people/groups of people. Lovely views - rural setting with lots of farmland. Saw some cool birds, groundhogs, rabbits and a lil toad. My only complaint is that the trail would be so much better if it were paved. This part of the trail is made with crushed stones. I have a hybrid bike and rode on the trail pretty easily, but the noise is quite awful and some of the little rocks got in my eyes (I recommend wearing sunglasses even if not sunny). There is also little place to rest or stop - I rode 9.5 miles one way and there was only one bench. I will ride again for the views, but probably won't be a regular for me until/unless they pave the trail.
My bike riding partner and I enjoy riding the trail from Bellefontaine, the northern part, but it is challenging on the rough stone path really meant for erosion protection of the rails. It is too bad that this part of the trail hasn't been developed yet except for 3 miles at the beginning in Bell. If this what the finished trail will look like, it will be great! The stretch from Bell to W Liberty is beautiful and full of wildlife. Only a short way out of Bell one will encounter Deer, Wild Turkey, Rabbits, and enough birds to satisfy any avian enthusiast! Looking forward to the completion of the trail!
Rode from Urbana to Springfield. Nice, flat paved trail. Very little traffic in the middle of the week. Easy trail to ride.
February riding outdoors @ 60 degrees in Ohio who would have dreamed it? Decided to enjoy the day and head to the SKT to check it out. Trailhead in Urbana in very easy to find (right on St Rt 36) and the restored Depot is very nice. Coffee shop inside was very nice too. Trail is relatively flat and in good condition has a little washboard in a few places but nothing too serious. There were a few places that are in need of repair that appeared to be new due to winter, I trust the maintenance crew will have repaired in a timely manner. Not as much canopy as some but still a nice 10 mile stretch from Urbana (Depot) to Springfield (Eagle City Soccer Fields). Check it out!!
Not very scenic in the rural areas, but we happen to enjoy cornfields and agricultural land. Springfield is the worst part of the section of trail from Xenia to Urbana, but we got through it without any problems. Not exactly an enjoyable part of the journey though!
North of Urbana the trail turns to gravel and it is substandard for rail trails. I wouldn't ride anything but a mountain bike on this section. We have a tandem with 32mm touring tires, which normally do fine on gravel rail trails. We turned around after about a quarter mile. The gravel is mostly 57s (not hard-pack), which is too course for hybrid type tires. We just couldn't see riding 16 miles up and 16 miles back on that stuff.
I don't want to complain too much, however. We live in northeastern KY where there are no paved bike trails and only one gravel rail trail that horses have tore up to the point that it is almost unridable on anything but mountain bikes. So the Ohio bike trail system is wonderful by comparison, even with its relatively minor flaws!!!
Hopefully they will be able to pave the northern section of this trail in the near future.
We cycle 2 to 3 thousand miles every years on the bike paths in western Ohio. We would love to cycle from Buck Creek State Park to Bellefontain. However, we will not ride the trail from Urbana to Bellefontain unless it's paved, it's not worth tearing our bikes up and having a less than enjoyable ride. Maybe someday we'll make it to Bellefontain on a paved path.
Rode the Urbana to Springfield side. Started at the Y in Urbana and went up the north part to parallel the airport. I got to see someone flying one of those parachute gliders. Turned around and picked up some glass in my tire at the railroad depot downtown. Fixed it and continued south to Springfield. Mostly surrounded by highways and farms it offers some nice sky viewing. I went as far as downtown Springfield near the water then went back.
Never too far from a city but with a rural feel in a lot of places.
I've been all the way to Xenia on this bike path...very nice enjoyable ride. I'm not much for the Xenia ride b/c it was too much city and loud town for me but still very enjoyable ride. I have seen multiple doe and 1 buck while on this path. Very awesome to see nature like this.
I rode the portion from Bellefontaine from Carter Ave. I went a little past West Liberty and turned around to go back where I started. it would be nice if it would get paved. it would then be great for Handcycles, racing wheelchair, and recumbents. This trail is alot safer than riding on the roads The scenery is real nice. This trail is really made for runners and mountain bikers.
We are preparing to do the Pine Creek trail and wanted to try our new tires out on a 'crushed stone' path. So we started out in Bellefontaine. We have taken crushed stone paths before and had no difficulty. We only made it about 1/2 mile on this part of the trail. It was too rough -- the stones are not crushed fine enough and packed down as other trails with the same description. So we packed up our bikes and headed to Urbana. We found the YMCA and started off. Be prepared for hills! I had read where some folks had trouble getting out of the recreation park so after riding through the sports complex we came to an intersection where the path turned right but I remembered crossing the path as we came through town on Main street so we turned left and followed the street for a short ways and found the entrance to the trail via a few 'marked' streets. The path was excellent through Urbana. You do have to stop for busy streets. We rode for ten miles before turning back. After all the comments we were not prepared to go through Springfield. Would someone please post the directions to get through Springfield as everyone we have talked to said it is not clearly marked Or that the signs give you a couple of options and unless you are familiar with Springfield you could easily get lost. The last mile of hills gave us fits as we are 'flat lands/rails to trails people.' All-in-all we did enjoy this section of the Simon Kenton from Urbana to outskirts of Springfield. Hopefully the volunteers will get a grant and get the section from Bellefontaine to Urbana paved!
The Champaign County portion is beautiful and well maintained. Clark County section is quite a bit different. The new extention, North of Urbana the gravel section, begins and winds you through some beautiful, gently rolling farm land with long, unobstructed views well clear of US 68. Unfortunately, as you enter Clark County to the South you are faced with getting through Springfield. It's unfortunate that there isn't a better way. I've encountered plenty of broken glass, youths throwing firecrackers at me, verbal posturing from malcontents, etc. It's a bit like a demilitarized zone until you get back on dedicated bike bath well South of Springfield. Urban blight left behind, points south through Yellow Springs and to Xenia are a joy. Look for route alternatives that bypass City of Springfield entirely.
The trail was in good shape. It is very difficult to find from Miller Park in Urbana or the Urbana Y. The best place to hop on the trail in Urbana is Depot Coffee House, depotcoffeehouseurbana.com
(937) 653-3768, 644 Miami St, Urbana, OH. Rode 9 miles from Urbana Y to Bollesville, to find a porti potti. Parts of the trail go through the industrial parts of urbana which are not scenic. Lots of busy street crossing between Y and coffee depot. I would ride again but not a favorite. Reminded me of the urban trail in Munice IN
We started this trail in Urbana and ended in Springfield. We were disappointed on a few levels. The trail is a straight shot down to Springfield with almost no scenic views the entire way. It's basically cornfields, railroad tracks and flat lands. The trail crosses many streets, some dangerous, so one has to be very careful when crossing. We also heard several gun shots at a particular point, which was unnerving, to say the least! We were told to not go all the way into Springfield because it's a seedy part of town. We went within two miles of downtown and the neighborhood became less than desirable and at that point we turned around. Sadly, the only plus to this route is that it's flat, well paved and an easy ride. It's pretty much full sun the whole way too, which can be a good thing or not, depending on the temperature outside. Sunscreen may be needed...
We started at the spur trail that starts at the Urbana YMCA. This spur trail connects to the SKT trail, but we missed the turn, and asked for directions. The trail is paved, mainly flat. This is a very nice trail.
We have ridden this trail many times this year. Start at the depot in Urbana (great coffee shop)and take off for Springfield, maybe go on to Yellowsprings (great little college town) and then Xenia. Trail is flat and well taken care of. Nice shelter house mid point to Springfield to stop and rest, also has restrooms. Urbana is a great town for antiques and ambiance.
I and my wife rode the trail from Urbana to Springfield, a little over 30 miles of it. The trail is very nice, clean, well maintained. Very ideal for a 69 yr. old couple.
But, the internet site directions for the YMCA are not good. It is Community Drive and not Commercial Drive that you use to get to the Y. (Commercial Drive is on the other side of Urbana, per my GPS. The Y would not come up on my GPS ! Also we passed the Y 4 times before realizing that it was set back from Rt. 36 a ways and hard to see behind the business buildings. There are no signs identifying the Y along the highway.
This trail is now a complete trail from the north side of Springfield to the north side of Urbana. The trail scenery is a mix of woods and open farmland.
The bike route connecting this trail to the Little Miami Trail on the south side of Springfield is a mix of bike paths and surface streets that is not always signed.
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