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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 chip seal 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, as well as some sections of the southern trail that also follow a rail line.TrailLink Map
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.
There are several parking locations along the trail including at its southern endpoint where the trail shares a parking lot with the Clark County Public Library, 201 S Fountain Ave. In addition, the trail's northern endpoint in Bellefontaine along Carter Ave. also has parking options available. See TrailLink Map for more parking options and detailed directions.
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