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The Wabash Cannonball Trail in northwest Ohio is actually two trails in one: its North Fork runs east–west for 46 miles and its South Fork makes up the balance of this nearly 63-mile trail. The forks converge in the eastern city of Maumee and then jackknife away on their separate routes.
The Wabash Cannonball, one of the state’s longest rail-trails, traverses four counties along the former corridor of two rail lines established by the Wabash Railroad. The South Fork was built in 1855 and the North Fork circa 1900. See vestiges of the Wabash as you travel through the small towns that were once bustling with railroad activity. Spot an original depot, travel over railroad bridges, and browse railroad memorabilia at the historical museum in nearby downtown Montpelier.
Also enjoy spectacular wildlife-viewing opportunities. Portions of the trail are segments of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a 4,600-mile-long hiking trail that will eventually connect the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail in western North Dakota with the Appalachian Trail in Vermont.
Begin in Maumee on the east end of the trail, where both sections of the route begin at Jerome Road within sight of The Shops at Fallen Timbers. Don’t be confused by the sign labeled Wabash Cannonball Trail—North Fork; just 0.25 mile west, the South Fork breaks off to the left while the North Fork continues straight.
It’s worth noting that a side excursion to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fallen Timbers State Memorial (recognizing the 1794 battle that helped open the Northwest Territory) is within easy reach; simply take a paved trail spur south along Jerome Road for 1.6 miles, passing over US 24 on a bicycle and pedestrian bridge. Side Cut Metropark is also accessible on the south side of the US 24 bridge. The park gets its name from an offshoot of the Miami and Erie Canal and provides a great place to learn about Ohio’s canal history or enjoy beautiful views of the Maumee River.
Traveling west from Jerome Road, the first 9.5 miles of the North Fork are nicely paved. Travel across several bridges over small creeks, marshy wetlands, and deeper ravines before the pavement ends and the smooth paved trail gives way to crushed stone, grass, and dirt for the remainder of its length, with the exception of 2 paved miles in the town of Wauseon.
Along this first paved stretch, you’ll traverse the scenic Oak Openings Preserve Metropark. More than 50 miles of trail, a few of which intersect with the Wabash Cannonball Trail, exist within the park, so you’ll have the option to take one of these into the park to explore the range of habitats found within its almost 5,000 acres.
Approaching Wauseon, the trail follows a short on-road section at County Road 11. To navigate this, take a right onto CR 11, traveling north 0.2 mile, and then turn left onto CR F, traveling west 2 miles, before turning left onto CR 13 another 0.2 mile south. The trail appears again on the right.
Back on the path, you come to the town of Wauseon. Rotary Park, on the right side of the trail, offers parking, restrooms, and plenty of shade. Continue to the trail’s end in Montpelier.
The beautiful South Fork route travels through western Lucas County for about 17 miles. The first 10.5 miles are paved and deliver a fun, flat, and fast ride. The final miles are similar to the unpaved section on the North Fork; the crushed-stone section is best suited to walkers, equestrians, and hybrid or fat-tire bikes.
As you traverse the charming community of Whitehouse, you’ll pass Whitehouse Village Park, where you can find restrooms and picnic tables. A little farther on, you’ll spot a red caboose circa 1927 sitting trailside. Just before the caboose, you’ll cross Providence Street, a major thoroughfare in town; turn right onto the street if you want to reach restaurants. You’ll pass through two more small communities, Neapolis and then Colton, before reaching the trail’s end on the rural outskirts of Liberty Center.
The main trailhead is at Jerome Road in Maumee. From I-475 on Toledo’s west side, take Exit 4 or 4A for US 24, and head east 0.75 mile to Monclova Road. Turn left onto Monclova, and travel 1.3 miles before turning left onto Jerome Road. The trailhead and parking are on the right in 0.1 mile.
To reach the North Fork’s Montpelier trailhead: From I-80/I-90, take Exit 13 to merge onto OH 15 S/US 20 Alt. S. Find the parking lot on your right in 2 miles, just past the trail and near Magda Dr.
The best trailhead for the South Fork is in Whitehouse. From I-475, take Exit 4, and head west on US 24. In 5.4 miles, take Exit 63. Turn right onto OH 64, and go 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Gilead St. or Providence St., and park at Whitehouse Village Park, which is adjacent to the trail on St. Louis Ave.
The Wabash Cannonball Trail in Fulton, Henry, and Williams Counties in Ohio is owned and maintained by our all volunteer group, the Northwest Ohio Rails to Trails Association, NORTA. We have regular work days on the trail, and try to keep up with maintenance on the sections we own.
In the summer of 2017, we were able to acquire "ground up pavement" for the trail surface in Williams county. A larger tire bike will have no problems on that section. If you like to "mountain" bike, the rest of the trail is rideable.
Sometime in 2018, the eastern most section of the trail in Fulton County will be paved to our offices at St. Rt. 109. We're working to find the safest way to get around the active train track in that area.
The Trail also has a section of certified North County Scenic Trail. Check it out. If you are hiking the NCT and need a place to camp or just need a Trail Angel, contact us.
We look forward to meeting you! And bring your loppers and rakes to help keep the trail cleared.
P.S. Yes, it's flat and straight. That's how the Wabash Cannonball Train was able to reach the speeds it did!
We live just 1/2 mile south of the South Fork. I run the trail most every day. It's always in great shape. In winter the trail is cleared off before the roads are. Well maintained and popular trail. Just have to be careful crossing the roads. The trail crosses many busy roads so watch for traffic, especially crossing State Route 295 (both forks cross this road). Enjoy!
We started at Oak Openings and rode east over US24, past the battlegrounds and on a ways before turning back and following the south fork to the end, then back past the parking area to the west ending point before returning to the Jeep just after dark. This trail says it closes at dark, a drawback for us as we would have put in a few more hours of riding if allowed, start early!
Mostly a smooth trail, some slightly washboard areas that were only minimally noticed, trail is in fairly good shape and a joy to ride!! We will return. The one real grip is all the stops every half to mile due to raod crossings, nothing major!
Just rode this for the first time started in wauseon and finished in oak openings 35 Miles round trip. Was a great ride can't wait to try the south fork
I have only ridden the Oak Openings to Maumee so far. Flat, clean and safe. Wooded areas, farm and houses. Black top this entire section. I look forward to riding the entire trail this summer.
Wauseon, Ohio in Fulton County has a 2 mile paved section that runs through town. There are two parks, Rotary and Wabash, right alongside the trail, and one park, Reighard, a block south of the trail by the high school. There is a very busy intersection at State Route 108 that has no light.
I was visiting family in Waterville and road 3.5 miles to the trailhead at Dutch Road. The path is very smooth and was well shaded in several areas. The street crossings were quite easy with very little traffic. The trail cuts through a mixture of farmland and residential neighborhoods.
I wasn't able to ride the south fork this trip but look forward to riding this trail again. Very flat, very smooth and well shaded. Definitely an asset for those who live in the area.
We've ridden the paved two miles in Wauseon and the several paved miles at Oak Openings, and it is a joy to ride without worrying over car traffic. The trail is smooth and railroad grade flat, and trees on both sides of the trail blocked fairly high winds that would be grueling on the open road.
We started our ride on the north fork at the trailhead at the Oak Openings Metro Park on highway OH-64(Waterville Swanton Rd). This is a nice picnic area with full facilities & ample parking. The restrooms were clean & modern.
We first rode west to the end of the paved portion (less than a mile) & took Fulton-Lucas Rd to the south fork, about 5 miles. Fulton-Lucas has very light traffic. Only 6 cars passed us before we arrived at the south fork.
Riding the south fork east, we stopped for lunch in Whitehouse. The General Ice Cream Store is right on the trail & has very good ice cream. Just over a block south from The General is the Whitehouse Inn (10835 Waterville St). It has very good food & service at reasonable prices.
After lunch & ice cream we continued east to where the north & south forks meet & then rode west on the north fork back to the point of beginning. Total miles covered were 25.2. The condition of the trail & road we traveled varied from very good to excellent - but was mostly excellent.
We did not see a lot of wildlife until near the end of our ride when we encountered a deer standing right in the middle of the trail. She let us get pretty close before ambling into the woods. Then, to our surprise, her fawn came running across the trail right in front of us. Overall, this was a great ride & one we will probably repeat each year.
Explored the trail from Wauseon west. Nice paved area through Wauseon with connected quiet riding areas around school and parks. Drove across many sections between Wauseon and west end. Most was unmowed and not rideable.
We rode the South Fork down to Whitehouse and back. The bike shop in Whitehouse has a lot of accessories and a variety of bikes to choose from. We really enjoyed the ride. As other reviews have mentioned the trail is completely paved between the trail head and down to Whitehouse. Be aware there is NO parking at the trail head. Not being familiar with the area we drove around quite awhile until we decided on a good stop to park and drop in. We parked at the North East corner of the Fallen Timbers Mall. There is a bike path that starts by the road on the east side of the mall. You can then take that north to the trail head.
The Wabash Cannonball South Fork runs through Whitehouse, OH which has a great ice cream shop (The General), sandwich shop (Cherry Tree) and a great bike shop (Cycle Werks). Whitehouse has great parking along the trail. A suggested 25 mile round trip from Whitehouse is to take the trail West from Whitehouse to Lucas-Fulton County Rd (a low traffic road). Take Lucas-Fulton Rd North to the North Fork (about 5 miles) and follow the North Fork to the connector to the South Trail just before Jerome Road. We take this route several times during the riding season.
I ride the North and South Fork three or four times a week. I live about 1/4 of mile off the
trail. I enjoy it because it is a safe ride . My concern is getting to the trail and living on a country road where cars are passing me by at 60 or 70 mph.
As you ride through Monclova you will see soccer fields which now has a brick year around restroom. Just built this year 2013. Then you will be passing the Monclova Grade School where on Monclova Rd next to the school we now have an ice cream restaurant with a restroom. It is opened spring and summer months. Continue on
east and you will find the Fallen Timbers Mall.
It is flat and some open areas of no trees but
keep going and you will find areas that are
woods. As you go into Whitehouse on the Southern
part of the trail they too have restrooms. A bike
shop is located on the trail in the downtown area.
It you do the whole 27 miles of paved trail you will be going through Oak Openings Park. They have a bike trail inside the park which is all woods, dunes and a large pond. They too added a
restroom this past year. They also have restrooms
on 295 area.
I wanted to mention the towns with their businesses that you might want to visit because I haven't seen anyone writing about them.
If you are one that wants to ride on flat trails like I do this is the one to do.
Beware of deer. If you see one in front of you count on more to follow. Last week we were in
Oak Opening area and out comes 2 deer in front of me. I had to stop to let them go. Then 2 more shoot out behind them. So I continued on and saw another one off in the distance. Will they attack? I haven't a clue.
This trail is well maintained and an easy trail to ride...only for about 10 miles on the South Fork and about the same for the North Fork though. We ride to the seemingly end of the South Fork (It turns into high weeds etc. The path looks completely unnavigable, not sure how others are riding the rest of the way.) We turn north on County Road 1 and ride that for about 5 miles, to the North Fork and follow that back to Jerome Road, riding through Oak Openings Park on the way. The full ride from our vehicle and back is about 27 miles. Smooth ride.
In the afternoon on September 21 we rode only about 5 miles out because of the extreme heat. It is a straight route with little shade & a few benches. Upon returning to our car, which was parked in Fallen Timbers Monument park just over route 24 via the bike/pedestrian overpass, we found that the car back windows had been smashed out & our suitcases, a computer, and a digital camera had been stolen. We wanted to ride this trail because it was near our son's home, but will not return to this trail.
We took the north trail to the end of the pavement (Fulton-Lucas Road) then doubled back to Girdham road, headed south to Reed, sort of east in the park to Obee to Whitehouse-Spencer, south to downtown Whitehouse where you can get on the south fork. It was 90+ degrees on a Tuesday morning / afternoon ride and the ice cream stand in downtown Whitehouse right at the trail was a great find. Best to have a portable GPS if you're going to try navigating the local roads. Nice country roads, virtually no traffic in the early afternoon.
A very unusual trail. A lot of street crossings, which usually indicates an urban area, but unlike almost every other urban area, there are no stores anywhere for water. So, make sure you bring plenty, especially for the north fork because there won't be any for the ten miles from Jerome street, with the exception of a small ice cream stand near Jerome street, about a quarter mile north of the trail, which may or may not be marked, depending on whether the city removes the cardboard sign.
I have tried many rail trails in Michigan, so I may be biased, but I did not like this trail. It was very flat, many unshaded areas, and basically no restroom facilities, at least for the ten miles on the north fork.
The rail trail that seems to be the opposite of this one, would be the Betsie Valley Trail. Mostly heavily shaded, with a lake with crystal clear water (crystal lake), and varying scenery (ends at Lake Michigan).
Like the gas station guy said in the movie "No Country For Old men", this trail closes "At Dark". I wonder what the legal definition of "At Dark" is ?
Great trail very flat and well paved at least east of Oak Openings
I had an adventure riding the north fork of the Cannonball. My wife and I love this trail but the trail itself gave us some unexpected surprises. Read more here: http://bikenrgy.blogspot.com
Most of the North Fork has been documented, but this section needs a little clarification.
The trail is paved in Wauseon, with the pavement ending at the west end of Dickman Rd.
From the end of Dickman Rd to CR 16, the trail is a loose, large, and shifty rip-rap stone that is difficult to pedal through. At CR16, a sign with barely legible faded letters was laying on the ground "City Property: No Trespassing". That might explain the extremely poor condition of this segment.
CR16 to CR17 is the hard pack cinder trail that is representative of the trail west to Montpelier.
If you are following the trail from near Montpelier to Maumee, it would be easiest to stop at CR16, go north to CR F and head east, dropping back down on the paved trail on N. Ottokee St. Another alternative is to take CR F all the way through Wauseon and drop back down on the trail at CR 11 (missing the closed section between CR 13 & CR 11).
I checked out this section the summer of 07 on my Mountain Bike. It is very passable with a cinder and limestone surface...just watch out for the grounghog holes. One bridge is just Railroad ties with spaces inbetween...you will want to walk your bike accross. as you approch highway 15 just east of Montpelier the trail turns into swamp land, at least the time of year I visited, right before the tunnel that goes under highway 15. On the other side of 15 the trail stops at a mound of stone and the still intact rail road tracks are visable beyond...still storing old train cars. I later checked out Montpelier, But could find no finished or started trail section...I beleive the tracks must still be inplace.
"On Saturday morning, August 4, 2007 I set out on the North Leg of the trail from Wauseon west. I have a hybrid bicycle. I parked at Rotary Park in Wauseon, immediately adjacent to the trail. The trail is paved through Wauseon. The paved trail ends abruptly at the west end of Wauseon, west of Bayes Road. From that point to County Road 15-1, the railbed is large railroad ballast overgrown with weeds. The trail is similarly not completed from CR 15-1 to CR 16. A detour can be done by turning north on Bayes Road to County Road F, proceeding west on CR F to CR 16, and returning to the trail at CR 16. The trail is open and marked from CR 16 west to West Unity, but trail maintenance is poor on many areas. From CR 16 to the County Road F crossing west of CR 19, the trail is paved with cinders or gravel in many areas, but there a lot of rough areas, holes, dirt and ballast, and large limbs have fallen across the trail. Large patches of poison ivy and other weeds and brush encroach on the trail. After the trail crosses County Road F, it passes around Dave’s Stone & Gravel along the east and north fences around the truck parking area, which is located on the former railbed. Beyond Dave’s, the trail is in reasonably good condition to CR 20, but there are still a number of rough areas to watch for. Between CR 21 and the crossing over US 20A the trail is rough, with poor maintenance. From US 20A to CR 22, the trail winds around the south and east sides of a cornfield which lies across the former railbed, and the trail is not well built or maintained. The trail is in good condition from CR 22 to CR 23 (Elmira/Burlington), and a gravel area on the east side of CR 23 is available for parking. From CR 23 to CR 24, the trail deteriorates, with a number of rough areas. From CR 24 to the Tiffin River Bridge, and on to West Unity, the trail is generally in decent condition, with a few rough areas. The Tiffin River Bridge, at over 200 feet long, is a scenic highlight of this section of trail. "
"The trail is paved throughout Lucas County - from near Jerome Road to the Lucas County Line.
In western Lucas County, the trail was is closed near Neapolis while a bridge is under construction at Manore Road, and wooden fences are being constructed along the sides of the trail. This construction shouldn't last long, and in any event it's easy to get around the temporarily closed portions via county roads south of the bike trail.
The south leg is not easy to access from Jerome Road. The best way to access the South Leg is to proceed from Jerome Road west on the North Leg until you get to the first underpass, under Waterside Blvd. Turn south on the sidewalk just west of the underpass, and head uphill to Longwater Drive. Turn right onto the street, and go a short distance to the first intersection (Waterbury Lane). Turn left, and head south on Waterbury Lane. At the end of Waterbury Lane is a path connecting to the Wabash Trail South Leg.
The trail through Whitehouse is enjoyable. The caboose is interesting, and there are stores near the trail where you can purchase water and snacks.
There is also a store further west in Neapolis. The store is just south of the trail.
West of the county line (1/2 mile west of Neapolis), the pavement ends. The trail from this point to the end at Henry County Road 6C is cinders or dirt.
Where the pavement ends, the trail passes through a corner of Fulton County for about 1/2 mile. This section is rough and not well maintained. After the trail crosses County Road W, and enters Henry County, the trail is in better shape.
About three miles further west (four miles west of Neapolis), the trail enters the unincorporated village of Colton. The trail is grass through Colton, but a street parallels the trail. At the west end of Colton, the trail leaves the village on a nice cinder roadbed.
Just west of Colton is a scenic railroad bridge.
The trail ends at CR 6C. From there, you can turn south on CR 6C, and go about 1/2 mile to County Road T. Turn west on CR T, and it's about 1.5 miles to downtown Liberty Center.
"The Wabash Cannonball trail is paved through Wauseon. The trail is closed between the east end of Wauseon, at CR 13, and CR 11. Between CR 13 and CR 11, the Wabash right-of-way crosses a very busy Norfolk Southerm railroad at grade. To get around the closed portion, follow CR 13 north 1/4 mile to County Road F, follow CR F two miles east to CR 11, cross the Norfolk Southern tracks on CR 11 (lights and gates at crossing), and return to the trail 1/4 mile south.
The section of the trail from CR 11 east to CR 6 has been designated the Gene Markley Corridor, named for a long-time volunteer. This section of trail is in decent shape, and has two highlights. Just east of CR 9, the trail passes under the Indiana and Ohio Railroad (formerly the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton). I saw several deer and a red fox in this area. Further east, about 1/2 mile east of SR 109, is the Fraker Mill bridge, a covered bridge constructed by volunteers. from the Fraker Mill bridge east, the trail is in reasonable shape to the Fulton-Lucas County line. Some areas are rutted, and horses have torn up portions of the trail.
From the county line east, the trail is paved with asphalt to Jerome Road, the east end of the trail. Just east of the county line, the trail enters Oak Openings Metropark. About 1/2 mile east of the county line are restrooms and pop machines. Leaving the metropark, the trail passes through increasinly suburban areas to the end at Jerome Road. If you proceed south on Jerome Road a short distance, the trail crosses a railroad track that is still active. The south leg of the Wabash Cannonball Trail starts a short distance west of this crossing, where the active railroad diverges to the south, away from the inactive railroad bed used by the south leg. If you continue less than a mile further south on Jerome Road, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge has been constructed over US 24, linking the Wabash Cannonball trail to the Fallen Timbers monument. A trail runs downhill from the north side of the monument toward the Maumee River. This trail connects to the trail through Side Cut Metropark. The Side Cut trail can be followed to its end at the Maumee-Perryburg (US 20/SR 25) bridge over the Maumee River. "
"I have been on all portions of this trail, both north and south legs, except for the stretch between West Unity and Montpelier.
The information on the trail's web site
(www.wabashcannonballtrail.org) is not up-to-date and offers poor information about which portions of the trail are open and trail conditions. The trail is paved through Wauseon, but the paver trail ends abruptly at the west end of the village. From the village limits of Wauseon (just west of Bayes Rd.) west to CR 17 the trail is railroad ballast, overgrown with weeds. From CR 17 to CR 18, the trail is passable but not well maintained. From CR 18 to CR 19 the trail is a little better, but not well-maintained. Just west of CR 18, where the trail crosses County Road F, just west of CR 19, the railroad bed enters the truck parking area for Dave's Sand & Stone. When I rode the trail, the fence around the truck parking area was closed on both sides. There is no signage, obvious road, or other indication of a route around this obstacle. The best bet when heading west is to head north along the eastern fence of Dave's, along a roadway perhaps constructed for the purpose, then turn west along the northern fence, until you return to the trail at the NW corner of Dave's fence. Even if the gates at each corner of Dave's fence are open, I would not recommend riding through the truck parking lot, as you may not fare well in your attempt to dodge moving trucks loaded with stone.
The web site states that there is a closed portion near Elmira/Burlington, but I
had no problems in that area. A corn field blocks the railroad right-of-way
just east of Elmira/Burlington, on the north end of the crossing over US Alt. 20, but an adequate stone road has been constructed around the south and west edges of the corn field, returning to the railroad bed where the trail crosses SR 66. There is a wide area suitable for parking along the trail on the east side of SR 66.
The Tiffin River bridge is a highlight of this section. The bridge is 210 feet long.
From the Tiffin River bridge to West Unity, the trail is passable, but there are several stretches that are not well-maintained. "
"I live along the trail at Fulton county road 20. Last summer I did not see any maintenance to the trail. My neighbor who use to trim along the edge just to keep the mosquitoes away was told to stay off the trails. Along with the farmer who had to put in a new entance to the field behind us. The trail is so over grown I rarely walk my dogs down it anymore to avoid the task of burr removal.
I sure would like to see this improve, as close as it is to the house I hate not to use it."
"During the month of July 2005 I walked a section of this trail numerous times while I was visiting family there. I enjoyed using the section of trail in Fulton County between Co. Roads 16 and 18-2, but was very disappointed to find that the section from Co. Road 16 to Wauseon was still closed and very overgrown, Likewise the section from Co. Rd. 18-2 to 19 closed and overgrown, and no bridge, over a drainage ditch. I was also concerned when a local farmer told me that he had mowed (several times) the section which I had walked, only to be told by someone having jurisdiction of that section that there was to be NO motorized vehicles on that section. DOES THIS INCLUDE THE FARM TRACTOR AND MOWER WHICH WAS USED TO ASSIST IN MAINTAINING (Mowing) THE TRAIL SURFACE ? ???
I WOULD HOPE THAT YOU allow and encourage farmers in that area to assist in using their haying and mowing equipment to maintain the trailbed. YES and it would be nice to see the closed sections opened for use.
Eugene Richer "
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