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Cruising along on the nearly 10-mile T. J. Evans Panhandle Trail (known locally as the Panhandle Trail), you might be surprised to encounter a massive basket seemingly plunked down by a giant. In fact, this quirky piece of Americana is the former home of the Longaberger Company, maker of handcrafted baskets. The seven-story building is a replica of the company’s iconic Medium Market Basket, and its majestic appearance near the trail adds a surreal spirit to a route that is otherwise imbibed with a friendly neighborhood feel.
Beginning just east of downtown Newark, the T. J. Evans Panhandle Trail runs parallel to active tracks of the Ohio Central Railroad, making this a nice example of a rail-with-trail. Built and funded by the T. J. Evans Foundation, the path is primarily used as a recreational corridor by families who live nearby. Its first few miles are tucked behind neighborhoods and businesses and run along OH 16 and the rail line, illustrating how much urban activity and transportation can fit along a single corridor.
Looking south around mile 3.5, find the larger-than-life Longaberger basket building. Longaberger employees conceptualized the picnic-basket exterior and interior and constructed the majority of the building’s cherry woodwork. If you are interested in Longaberger baskets, the town of Frazeysburg, about 10 miles from the trail’s end in Hanover, is the site of the Longaberger Homestead. Here you can learn about basketmaking on the weaving floor, visit the shop, or even try your hand at making one of the signature baskets.
For the next handful of miles, the path winds through the rural landscape of eastern Licking County. Here in Amish country, horse and buggy caution signs are as prevalent as cornfields. You sail past grazing cows and hear frogs croaking in marshy areas along the trail. Summer days find turtles sunning on logs and creek banks. American sycamores, slippery elms, and bittersweet grow in the surrounding woods, and white-tailed deer visit isolated ponds along the route. The best time to experience this trail is early October, when the leaves are bright and the air is crisp. The last 2 miles of the Panhandle Trail mark the southern border of the Virtues Golf Club property, the top-ranked public course in the state; the club also has a nice restaurant.
Back in Newark, you’ll find the Panhandle Trail’s sister route, the 14-mile T. J. Evans Trail on the west side of town. With Newark’s growing trail system, there are less than 2 miles of on-road riding between them.
To reach the trail’s west end in Newark, from I-70, take Exit 132. Head north on OH 13, which becomes W. National Dr., and go 7.5 miles. Turn right to stay on W. National Dr., and go 0.3 mile. Turn left onto S. Third St. In 0.4 mile at the traffic circle, take the first exit (right) onto S. Park Pl., and go 0.1 mile. At the next traffic circle, take the second exit (left) onto S. Second St., and go one block. Take a right onto E. Main St. In 0.5 mile, turn left onto N. Morris St. After crossing the railroad tracks, veer right and turn left into the parking lot.
To reach the eastern endpoint in Hanover, from I-70, take exit 129 or 129A. Head north on OH 79, and go 9.4 miles. Turn right onto OH 16 E, and go 10.5 miles to the OH 146/Nashport Road exit. Turn left onto OH 146/Nashport Road, and go 0.3 mile. Turn right onto County Road 585/Marne Road. Go 1 mile to Felumlee Road and turn left. Go across the railroad tracks; the end of the trail will be on your left.
Rode it last week from Dayton Rd. to Longaberger Golf Course. I didn't notice much debris on trail. I just wish there was a more direct entrance from Hanover. I also enjoy the scenery on this trail. I think it was smart and probably economically efficient to build along a existing railroad. The chainlink fence separates the two.
The trail is not hard to find. However, the parking is a little confusing because you have to drive on the trail for about 100 feet passing the “No Motor Vehicles” sign. The Parking area is neglected and overgrown with weeds. My suggestion is parking on nearby Main Street and making the short ride to the trail head.
The trail itself is in decent shape. A drawback to this trail is that the tree canopy drops a lot of debris onto the trail. You will have to keep one eye on the ground to avoid some of the larger sticks and twigs. The trees do make a nice shaded trail if you are riding in the heat. Like many of the previous reviewers the entire trail is along a chain link fence and takes away from the natural scenery.
After reading previous reviews, I wanted to experience this trail for myself. True, there is little scenery changes, other than "the big basket" and some rock walls that provide some shade, but if you just want to get some biking exercise, this trail is perfect.
A chain link fence lines most of this trail. A coverd bench offers an escape from sun or rain, and gives a nice view of The Basket. The trailhead in downtown Newark is located next to places to eat or get snacks.
Those of you that posted negatives should have bicycled the other two legs of the Newark Trail because the entire trail amounts to well over 50 miles including the small trail to to the University. Then, you could even get a lot more riding in if you get off the so called ugly fence trail at SR 668, head south down SR 668, and take a left after the bridge and enter the West entrance to Black Hand Gorge located on the left at the small parking lot (west entrance not well marked). I rode Black Hand Gorge many times and really never enjoyed it on a road bike, but better suited for other styled bikes such as hybrids, BMX, and mountain bikes.
The Evans trail is a Great 3 legged trail and well worth riding especially for endurance. The best leg is from Cherry Valley Road to Johnstown and well work riding.
Traveling downtown Newark between the 2nd leg and the East leg can be tricky because of the one-way city streets but also has its advantages because of the many stores including a bicycle shop around Newark Common. For Historian Buffs, the common has the Old Licking County Historic Jail and Courthouse that's well worth seeing.
I live in West Newark and decided to ride across town, through downtown and jump on the T.J. Evans Panhandle Trail to ride all the way out to Blackhand Gorge SP. I made it! This trail was a great way to do the majority of the distance as it is flat and well kept. Seeing the country side, mature trees and a few bridges and gorges made for some nice sights along the way, and of course the giant basket was the icing on top.
When I got to the far end of the trail past Hanover it comes to a perfect end at HW 146 and HW 16 in Nashport. I jumped on to country road 146 then a quick right onto Toboso Road for a mile ride down to Blackhand Gorge SP, where I hiked to the cliff overview of the Licking River and then to the hidden waterfall where I cooled off in the shade with my feet dipped in the cold creek for a good hour while I ate lunch. It was an amazing adventure day.
The round trip was 33 miles.
Parking Tips: In Newark, park at the Salvation Army across the street from E. Main and Morris Road where the trail begins, also consider parking in Everett Park about one block from the trail start. In Nashport, take 16 to 146 and park in the Schmidts Sunoco station, they have ample parking space in the back, just don't take a front spot and you should be fine. The trail starts at the dead end of 146 going north (right) out of the gas station for approx 200 yards.
Boring except for the Lonaberger basket building. Other than that, ugly chain link fence the entire length.
We biked this trail when we were in that area. it wasn't a bad trail just not much to see except the ugly fence.
We do enjoy biking in Ohio...nice flat paved trail.
Mike and Vicki.....Northwestern PA.
We rode the trail on a beautiful, cool August day. The directions on TrailLink to the Nashport end of the trail were perfect - but we didn't notice the lack of mention of a parking lot. No parking lot at the end of the trail! We found a small parking lot in Hanover, but when we got to Newark, again - no parking lot at the end of the trail.
The trail itself is nice, flat, pretty scenery, uncrowded. We did not experience a train going by, but think it would be a thrill if one did.
Unlike the Pennsylvania and the West Virginia panhandle's trackless trail of the same name near the eastern end of this line (MP11 to 39), Ohio's Panhandle Trail has one of its two tracks remaining, separated from the trail by an annoying and yes absolutely continuous chest high chain link fence. The trail is on the old right-of-way of 70mph passenger / 50mph freight westward main Track 2, 9.7 miles from MP147.6 (mileage from Pittsburgh Union Station) to MP157.3, at Main Street in Newark, Ohio. After Amtrak cancelled its New York-Saint Louis National Limited in November 1979, burgeoning host Conrail moved in swiftly to downgrade and abandon much of this line. It moved its first class mail trains off the route, ripped out one track here (both tracks across much of Ohio and Indiana), and CR's ex-Pennsylvania Railroad's "Main Line-Pittsburgh to Saint Louis) became the "Weirton Secondary Track" out here. Ready to abandon the line completely, due to near lack of online business, Ohio stepped in and bought the line, the railroad then having run under several post-Conrail names since 1990. Since very few trains use the line, I guess I am not too surprised that a "rail-with-trail" development was allowed here. Let's start at the east end of the trail. Before you ride the trail, do take a moment to head east on OLD Ohio-16 beyond Hanover, to view the little plate girder railroad underpass that still bears a faded "PENNSYLVANIA", once proudly proclaimed as the "Standard Railroad of the World." Next, the parking issue. Forget about parking anywhere near the east end of the trail. There is nowhere to park out there. The best, and obviously most secure parking spot is at MARNE, on old 16 right at the middle of the trail, at Trail MP5. There is a decent-sized, trail dedicated, and paved lot, for about 10 vehicles here. I would hesitate parking near the west end of the trail. It's not extremely seedy, but there is what I would call "gang graffiti" painted over EVERYTHING over that last mile or two at the west end. Trail mileage markers are painted on the trail, starting at MP0 at the trail's east end. And yes, watch the roots. The relatively old asphalt is showing its age at many spots, with annoying cracks and upward protrusions. I have downgraded this trail to only four stars, due to its lack of railroad artifacts. Construction of the trail, and its companion underground pipe line, have denuded the right-of-way of its PRR cast iron or concrete mileposts, and post-Penn Central railroads have taken out the other artifacts, like the keystone-shaped ("W") cast whistleposts. As with several of the "Panhandle"s trails out in Ohio and Indiana, though, as you progress westward, you should note the intermittent presence of those old telegraph poles along the south side of the right-of-way, the ones with the small wooden crossbar with insulators, mounted above a longer wooden crossbar. This was the ubiquitous CAB SIGNAL line, which provided the engineer with a continuous onboard indication of the signal indication ahead, between the ground mast (position light) signals located every 2 or 3 miles. Traffic spacing and safety was imperative on Pennsy's major traffic lines like this one. Classic wooden-decked steel overpasses tower over the line above many of those very deep red sandstone cuts. These bridges are of very old design, no doubt harkening back to the very early days of this railroad. The bridge 1.6 miles west of the Marne parking lot still bears classic PRR Bridge Number 153.67 on its northern footer. The neat little covered bridge and rest bench at railroad mile 154.4 is a nice stop to take in that Longaberger Basket building. And finally, note the widening former right-of-way to once 5-tracks (2 mains to 2 mains and 3 sidings) westward from MP155.4, where the operator at "Licking" Tower here (closed by 1950) widened the trackage over the last two miles before Newark proper, to service an obviously once very busy industrial east side of Newark. The railroad slowed to 25 and 15mph on those sharp curves before Main Street in Newark, where the "Pennsy" joined the B&O for 40 miles of dual ownership and running into Columbus, a very unique and interesting operation (Google "PRR Columbus & Newark Division"). As a postscript to my tour and review, both on this Father's Day 2014, I know that my father and many years railfanning partner, who passed away almost 24 years ago, was riding along with me today as I retraced this part of his route from Latrobe to Saint Louis and Barstow, California, over 70 years ago, with so many other soldiers going to war. Memories of Dad's stories, and of so many other Latrobe area relatives and friends who shared in actually riding aboard trains over this route during the PRR "glory days" of this railroad, as well as over the declining Penn Central and Amtrak years, always make this old "Panhandle Route" some of the most precious and special segments of my rail-trail studies. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 6-15-2014.
This trail was a big disappointment for me. First, there was a lot of debris on most of the trail i.e. dead grass, dead leaves, sticks and a LOT of berries that fall from the trees. I had to clean my tires when I got home. Secondly, the trail is rather boring. The scenario: tree line, bike path, chain link fence, rail road, tree line. If you have to drive to this trail as I did (30 minute drive), don't waste your time. I highly recommend the T.J. Evans trail that goes from Johnstown to Granville; must more scenic.
Lots of sticks on the path so riding with a recumbent was a bit bumpy.
Needs to be cleaned up a bit an bumps need to be marked better.
Was flat and very easy trail.
This trail is typically non crowded and can be very enjoyable for a full run.
There was a bit of debris in the trail from sticks and branches and quite a few bumps but overall it was a very enjoyable trail. Hot Day and the shade provided the perfect canopy when we needed a break.
I discovered this trail by accident, I think, several years ago and rode it again this year. It has a sudden ending and I did not find that much parking area at the beginning. Other than that, it is not far from the other Evans Trail and a good one.
I road the entire distance July 7th 2008. The asphalt was in great shape. A few cracks that span the width of the trail were all I saw, and they were only noticeable visually. The Eastern 1/2 is more scenic (stone cliffs like Blackhand gorge near by) than the Western, but it all travels next to an active rail system, separated by a 4 foot chain link fence. From all the rain we have been having, it had one muddy spot. I was glad to finally be able to find this trail which allows me to do about 50 miles when starting in Alexandria.
"I love this trail, especially in the late summer and fall when the goldenrod and purple joe-pye springs up toward the Longaberger golf course. (You can ride into the golf course and use the restroom, too! It's a bit of a hill.) However, there are a few places where the mud gathers after rain, sometimes as much as an inch or so in depth. Makes it a bit slick. Otherwise, in good weather, it's great!"
"The best parking for the Panhandle trail is across from the enormous Longaberger basket building. The lot is on Dayton Road and puts you in the middle of the trail. Not one of the more exciting trails, but it's smooth and well-kept."
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