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The Zoar Valley Trail winds along the Tuscarawas River between Fort Laurens State Memorial in Bolivar and slightly northeast of Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia. The path offers a mixture of rolling hills and level areas through wooded tracts, open spaces, farmland and suburban back yards.
The trail passes by many historical sites of interest, including the villages of Zoar and Schoenbrunn (the latter founded in 1772), Camp Tuscazoar, Dover Dam, the Ohio & Erie Canal, Fort Laurens and a pre-Revolutionary War encampment. You'll also find a couple railroad trestles, one known as Fink Truss Bridge, which is a one-of-a-kind on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to the historical sites, you can visit the Zoar Wetland Arboretum and you can camp at Tuscazoar, which is located about the halfway point. Both primitive tent sites and lodges are available, but the camp recommends reserving a spot in advance. The Camp Tuscazoar Foundation manages the trail.
The southern half of the trail (south of SR 416) requires on-road cycling and is hilly, while the section north of the camp, has a natural surface and is more level. The northern most section of the trail—between Route 800 and Fort Laurens—follows an old railroad right of way and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath. At the Fort Laurens State Memorial in Bolivar you can continue on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath heading towards Cleveland.
Parking and access is available at Fort Laurens in Bolivar, by Canal Lands Park trailhead in Zoar (8645 Diver-Zoar Rd), at Camp Tuscazoar in Dover, at the intersection of University Drive NE & E High Avenue (northeast of the historic Village of Schoenbrunn), and near the Route 82 bridge.
However, note that Schoenbrunn Village closes at 5 pm. Retrieve your car by then to avoid getting it locked in.
So I rode the middle section from the Zoarville Station Bridge (Rt 800) to Rt 416 (near Saltwell Western Store). I could not find the northern end of this trail section by the intersection of Old Zoarville Rd and Boy Scout Rd, so went back and took the more obvious side trail between the Zoarville Station Bridge and Old Zoarville Rd that followed the river. I later read on a trail map of Camp Tuscazoar that I had found the Lower Rail Road Bed. It was ok for the most part. More a trail I would walk my dog on than anything I would want to bike, but it is mostly passable with a few muddy sections I had to walk through. Probably not going to be the highlight of anyone's bike trip as it was a rough ride at times. I was thinking of finding a different way back. It was clear for the most part of tall vegetation (keep reading).
When I got to Dover Dam, the trail/road that went uphill was all ballast but short. At the top is where I met the actual Zoar Valley Trail. I biked south and it was a nice crushed stone access road for the dam that people can easily enjoy on a hybrid bike. The only issue is they filled potholes with ballast (which can be avoided). If you had to bike just to Dover Dam, this portion is recommended.
After turning around at Rt 416, I biked back to the dam. This time I stayed straight on the higher trail (instead of going down the ballast road) which was the route of the Zoar Valley Trail. It started out okay as a dirt trail, but as I kept going the vegetation got worse and out of control. Near the end, I had to pedal a few seconds here and there before tucking my knees up and coasting along the jungle path. However, by then I was at the point of no return and kept going until I popped out on Old Zoarville Rd in a spot I was at earlier when looking for the trail. If it wasn't for a previously missed trail post showing it was a trail for equestrian use, I would not have been able to point it out from the road. That is how bad the vegetation is.
Traveling south, if it is not flooded, I would recommend skipping the "higher" Zoar Valley Trail and taking the connected and more obvious Lower Rail Road Bed trail (take the trail to the right after the bridge, there is a sign indicating it is a trail), even if that means walking your bike up a small section of ballast near the dam. Again, the access road for the dam heading south was in overall good condition (and can even rival some trails). Traveling north, when you get to the dam take the ballast road down to the lower trail (again, if it is not flooded). The Lower Rail Road Bed ends at the path to get to Zoarville Station Bridge (turn left for the bridge).
In my opinion, if they add limestone and clear some vegetation, this middle section of the Zoar Valley Trail would make a nice addition to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. It has potential.
We intended to start trail at Schoenbrunn Historic Village. No signs, and were unable to find the start of the trail. Reviewed the traillink map and then headed by road to New Philadelphia. Found the end of the southern trail. Stopped passersby, no one knew what trail we asked about. Eventually resorted to "google maps" and followed a hilly road which turned us right onto a trail that ran along the river for a couple of miles. Again, no signs. There were a few forks in the trail with no signage, so we had to guess as to which way to go. By this time we had no reception. The trail was rough, more suited to mountain bikes with no panniers!! We walked our bikes up a few VERY steep hills and through Camp Tuscazoar to a car parking area where some locals gave us directions back to roads that would take us on to the Ohio & Eerie Towpath. The towpath was a very pleasant 5-6 miles to Fort Lauren. Enjoyed this section very much. The previous 15 miles I would not recommend due to lack of signage, hills and rough terrain, ESPECIALLY if you are travelling with luggage. Only recommend for mountain bikers on day trip who know the area.
The crushed limestone was a pain for my tires but other then that it was a decent trail. Followed the river and it had many bends and bridges. I prefer smoother and longer trails however.
Rode this trail after rain a rain storm (on me). Very little signs, tons of over growth, and had to walk my bike most of time due to poor conditions. Won’t do this one again until significant upgrades are made.
Good biking trail except that the areas of uncrushed limestone make for rough riding. Did not try the trail south of Rt. 800 due to previous reports that it is difficult riding.
I've ridden this trail twice. Once south from Fort Laurens to Dover Dam and most recently from Schoenbrunn village to Fort Laurens. The best portion of the trail is the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath to Route 800. South of Route 800 until you reach Johnstown Road NE the trail is very rough and has areas of standing water. The towpath portion of the trail is easy to follow but, again, south of Route 800 the trail is not marked at all so if you intend to travel the entire route make sure you study the map shown here at TrailLink carefully and make sure you pay attention to the intersections where you need to turn on the southern on-road portion of the trail. Also, note that the trail description listed here at TrailLink suggests that the southern portion of the trail is paved. What is not mentioned is that the southern portion is on-road and not a protected bike path. Should the midsection of the trail be improved this trail could be a gem with many interesting sites along the way such as Fort Laurens, canal locks, Zoar Village, the Fink Truss Bridge and Dover Dam. Lastly, I suggest to all riding the trail that the better route between the Fink Truss Bridge and Dover Dam is to take the access road along the Tuscarawas River rather than the old railroad right of way that passes by Camp Tuscazoar.
My friend and I rode this trail as part of our trek down the Ohio & Erie Canalway from Cleveland to Dover last week. The north section of the trail from Fort Laurens to Route 800 is in good shape, with packed gravel and a nice ride through the woods. Once you cross Route 800, however, trail conditions deteriorate significantly. The short section from Rt 800 across the Zoarville Station Bridge is mostly grass with gravel ruts. South of Old Zoarville Road, the trail is essentially overgrown singletrack. There has been no effort whatsoever to maintain this part of the trail. We made it about half a mile when we encountered a large mud bog, at which point we gave up, backtracked and rode Old Boy Scout Road out to the Dover trailhead on Rt 416.
Just got back from riding the Zoar Valley Trail. Rode from Fort Lauren's to State Route 800. It was a beautiful ride that followed the river on one side and the canal and locks on the other It was a little narrow for my wife and I to ride side by side, but then it is a tow path and not a rails to trails bed. Though it hasn't rain in a while, it was fairly smooth and no ruts at all. If your looking for a 11 mile ride, I would recommend using the St. Rt. 800 trail head, ride the 5.5 miles to Bolivar and enjoy a sandwich at Sublime BBQ (check the hours) or ice cream at DQ or the little shop in the middle of the village and then return. Because of the canopy of trees, we are definitely going to return in a couple of weeks to catch the leaves!!!!
i wanted to submit my current opinion of the zoar trail from fort laurens to the dover dam. my brother and i just rode this and other parts of the area in/and around zoar and bolivar yesterday. i had read the previous nine reviews on this website; not to mention we had a friend that did this as well in 2014. so i knew going in to possibly expect some unimproved and/or primitive conditions. we were pleasantly surprised that the trail was actually not bad at all. we do the majority of our biking up in the cuyahoga valley towpath and up in cleveland so we know what the crushed limestone/smooth gravel towpaths sections are all about. that being said, the trail from fort laurens past the four locks (7,8,9, and 10); old county road 82 and bridge; current county road 82 (take to downtown zoar); down to state route 800 is comprised of the aforementioned conditions. there is no paved sections at all once you get past the bridge over interstate 77. however, it is smooth as the limestone has been flattened over the years. very little human traffic at all, very peaceful, and easy to navigate. the tuscarawas river bends and snakes close to the trail from time-to-time and was still and low in spots. the short ride (one minute or so) on state route 800 to where state route 212 joins is where you will find the trailhead to the zoarville bridge. the trailhead is marked by a pedestrian with a stick figure and says TRAIL on the yellow sign. trail then gets a little bumpy with bigger rocks and grass (not tall at all) till you get to the bridge over the tuscarawas river. this bridge only served the trail for hikers, bikers and horses (no car/truck traffic anymore). the trail then takes a right turn (90 degrees) and for 2.8 miles down to the dover dam adjacent to the tuscarawas river (note: at this point the river will be on your right as you are going south towards the dam whereas when you are coming down the zoar trail before this the river is on your left). here is where the trail is no longer crushed limestone. it now represents a hiking/horse path that is used by bikers as well. so don't expect a traditional bike path which you may be accustomed to in other parts of the area/country. this was (from my understanding)a trail that was blazed and/or created by the boy scouts so if that is true then it was first a hiking trail. if there are any plans for the county to improve it down the road; only time will tell. but for now, it was a path wide enough for two bikes to travel side-by-side and the best i can describe it is that it looks like a small pick-up truck path has gone down there from time-to-time. meaning that there are two dirt-flattened two-foot wide paths straddling around the middle which is grass/weeds. it had rained on thursday but there were no puddles only a few slightly muddy low spots. there were NO huge potholes, large holes, trees down, washed out areas, etc. now, that being said, i can see that the time of the year and current weather conditions prior to doing the path just might effect the condition of this part of the zoar trail going down to dover dam. again, very peaceful ride and well worth it. one note if you do this ride in the near future or this fall, please watch when you get to the dam area...approach with high caution. there is a bee/wasp/or hornets' nest that is right near a tree as the trail gets wider at the dam. it is hanging (believe it or not) at eye/head level from a crooked branch. if you are fixated on the dam in the distance, you just might get too close to this nest. so be very careful of it.
hope this helps, enjoy the trip!
oh, one other note...one of the previous posts said that the boardwalk right before you get to state route 800 was broken/washed out...it has now been rebuilt.
in addition, when you are at the trailhead 212/800...do not expect to see the old zoarville bridge if you are looking for it. this time of year the tree foilage is still blocking your view...possibly in the fall/winter/spring you can see it with very little foilage on the trees.
I biked this trail southwards from its northern end at Ft. Laurens State memorial in Bolivar, OH, to its intersection with OH-416, south of Dover Dam. I estimate I covered the northern 12mi of the 20mi total length. It is a beautiful trail. A bit rough in places, but well worth it.
From Ft. Laurens to the intersection with OH-800, the trail is packed dirt with small gravel. There is an obstruction that requires dismounting due to a half-destroyed boardwalk a short distance north of OH-800, but otherwise it is an OK ride - except maybe for delicate rear ends :-)
After a short segment on the shoulder of OH-800, followed by another mile or so on Old Zoarville Rd (most of which is no longer open to motor vehicles), the trail quality deteriorates. There is especially an overgrown segment, extending southwest from Old Zoarville Rd, past the Tuscazoar scout camp. In this segment, there were tall weeds and a couple of muddy areas that required dismounting to avoid getting stuck. None of this was insurmountable; just needed to slow down and be careful. Note: The trail turns 90o right from Old Zoarville Rd, a few yards before Boy Scout Rd. You will not ride on Boy Scout Rd.
After Dover Dam, the trail is really a gravel-covered dirt road - a little bumpy but OK. A mile or 2 before OH-416, there is the option of a paved road with almost no car traffic, running along the river, close and parallel to the trail.
Warning: The trail signage is far from perfect. I recommend buying the Trail Links e-map and using it on a GPS-equipped smart phone. This map is very accurate.
I would like to thank those who build and maintain this trail, even though the work is not finished.
Why? Because as of Saturday May 23rd the trail is closed about five miles from the Fort Laurens Trailhead.
Up to that point, the trail is too narrow. There are erosion ruts that could easily take a rider down and/or pretzel a wheel.
I can't speak for the opposite end of the trail that starts in Schoenbrunn.
This area is quite lovely and steeped in history. The trail has great potential but I hope the people responsible for maintenance get their act together.
One incongruity I must point out. There is a gorgeous bridge which takes the trail across Route 77. It appears that most of the money was spent on this structure as it belies the poor condition of the trail ahead.
Hiked from Fort Laurens to Camp Tuscazoar and back. Trail is flat. Area north of Route 800 is old canal towpath and relatively smooth. Beyond route 800 and south to Camp Tudcazoar is old rail bed. Rail bed was level but a little muddy, not as smooth as the towpath.
I walk the trail almost daily, we go a little further each day. I understand it closes at dark, and I understand why, but seldom do we get out before dark. The people complaining about the trail need to realize this is a work in progress and thus far I think they have done a great job! We love to be outdoors and just see the natural beauty of places especially the wildlife. Yesterday we stood and watched 3 deer as they grazed for about 15 minutes, and the sounds of everything is relaxing and we lose track of time. The history is also great, I would have loved to seen it back in its hayday. I firmly believe if u love the outdoors u will love the trail!!! If not, I don't advise this for you, afterall it is nature!!!
Just out for some exercise and decided to hit this trail. I started at Fort Laurens and headed south. The trail was in good shape for the first 2 or 3 miles, then it got rough on and off. I only went 5 Miles down then headed back. Over all I enjoyed it, I liked passing the 4 canal lock's along the way. Would of loved see them work in the day! Happy trailing!!
We rode from Ft Laurens to Dover Dam today. The trail is in good shape for about 4 1/2 miles then you get into the area where they have not made any improvements yet, it is still a pretty easy ride but I don't recommend it to anyone that is used riding primarily finished trails. We made a couple of miscalculations and ended up backtracking once or twice. At one point you end up out on route 212/800, just turn left and go a short distance (100 yards tops) you will see a bright red bridge to your right, ride over the bridge to the poles then turn right and you are back on the trail again. A few muddy spots along the way, nothing too terrible and a short climb at the damn.
That was all we rode today. I will be submitting way points as I explore this trail for all that ride with GPS.
After starting from the Fort Laurens parking lot the trail was fine for approximately 3.5 miles. At that point it turned into all dirt with mud, rocks, and became very narrow. We turned back and attempted to find the other end of the trail in New Philly because the trail guide listed at least part of it as paved. We figured the other end would be better. NOT ! We went to Schoenbrunn Village where the trail is supposed to start at the southern end. The people who worked there said there were no trails there. They said all trails had been blocked off. If it is there it is a well-kept secret.
Tuscarawus County (with Congressman Ralph Regula's funding help) opened a bicycle/horse/pedestrian bridge over I-77 at Fort Laurens on Oct. 27, 2007. Enter the Fort area and park at the far end near the picnic pavillion. The trail is wood chips for 1/10 mile to the bridge. At the east end of the bridge, the trail is crushed stone. It is on the former towpath of the Ohio & Erie Canal. There probably 3 canal locks before Zoar. There is also 1 very steep grade up and over an abandoned railbed that cuts the towpath. At Zoar (actually on the south side of the river and the canal near Zoar) there is another parking lot. It is adjacent to but not directly ON the trail. From this parking lot east, the trail is unimproved. The surface is dirt and can be very muddy after a rain. At the point where the trail (towpath) nears the active railroad (noted by the presence of a 60-80 ft. high embankment) the trail seems to disapear. You need to work your way left toward the river and cross under the railroad next to the river and work your way back to the trail. The unimproved trail continues along the the former towpath. I don't believe there are any locks in this section. About 200 yards before Ohio RT. 800, the towpath and all trees disapear and you come out into a field. The county, I believe, is trying to buy this piece of private property. The property up to this point is public (reguardless of any signs). You would continue straight on, out to the highway. You should come out at a break in the guardrail. Turn left and cross the highway bridge over the river and at the point where Rt. 212 apears on the left, you turn right on a dirt? road that was a former road but is no longer for vehicle access. In 1/10 of a mile you will come to the newly refurbished historic bridge over the Conotton Creek. Continue straight a short distance to an abandoned railroad bed. There are actually two here and you want the second (upper) one just before the road. Turn right. This will take you into Camp Tuscazoar area, formerly a boy scout camp and now owned by a private foundation. They were responsibule for getting the grant to restore the historic bridge. This railbed is not rideable on a bicycle. Also, this rail bed is privately owned by a company in Dover, but likely no one will deny you entrance. The railbed runs all the way to Dover (past the Dover Dam, a flood control device). There is only one road crossing between the historic bridge and Dover. The trail is very shaded and plenty of wildflowers in the spring. This route is hoped to be part of the Ohio to Erie Trail in the future. The Tuscarawus County Park District was only recently established and is virtually unfunded, so improvements may be slow coming.
"walked from Zoar, to near 800. The path disappeared into shoulder high weeds and I was told it was private land. If there is a connection to continue towards New Philly I'd like to know where it is."
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