Ohio has an abundance of scenic cycling trails offering fun experiences both on and off the path. From riding along a canal and catching a train to exploring Native American earthworks or stopping for a little bird watching, there are plenty of opportunities for you, your family and friends of any age and skill level to stop and smell the roses.
#1. Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail – Northeast
Who wouldn’t enjoy biking along a gorgeous old canal way then riding a train in the same visit? From June – October, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway runs “Bike Aboard!” in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The program allows cyclists to bike the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, then enjoy a train ride (with their bicycles) – or ride then pedal back. This is a perfect outing if you have little ones who can only ride so far and for all the kids at heart who just love trains! Check the train schedule for tours with park rangers (fall foliage, etc.) and stop at the Boston Store Visitor Center to see how canal boats were once built in this area. If some shopping would be the perfect addition to your outing, stop by the fun, artsy shops and galleries in Peninsula.
#2. The Little Miami Scenic Trail – Southwest
Winding along the Little Miami River, one of Ohio’s designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, this 75-mile trail passes farms, through woods and several small towns. There are some great stops just off the trail including Fort Ancient State Memorial, an amazing facility that introduces Ohio’s Native American culture along with a series of authentic Native American earthworks. For a longer adventure, add some paddling time on the river with Morgan’s Canoe Livery or plan a hike through Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve or John Bryan State Park. To top off the trip, get some ice cream at Young’s Jersey Dairy and visit with the farm animals or play a round at Udders & Putters.
#3. Olentangy Greenway Trail – Central
If you would prefer not to get too far out into the countryside, this 14-mile trail is for you. The trail winds along the Olentangy River, but runs through several central Ohio communities. You can stop for a rest at Antrim Park in Worthington, a beautiful 120-acre park highlighted by a sparkling lake (pack your fishing pole and license!) or take in the beauty of Whetstone Park of Roses in Clintonville where thousands of roses are surrounded by perennial gardens, a small pond and plenty of green space. The path also travels through the heart of the Ohio State University campus. This trail just begs you to take along a picnic or pick up something along the way to enjoy in any of these parks or by Mirror Lake at Ohio State. There is plenty of open space for throwing a ball or catching some rays!
#4. Wabash Cannonball Trail – Northwest
This 63-mile trail of smooth gravel is part of the Rails-to-Trails program and follows in the path of two former Norfolk Southern Railroad lines and is a popular destination for cycling, running, horseback riding and birding. Portions of the Wabash Cannonball Trail are also certified segments of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a 4,600-mile-long hiking trail connecting the Lewis and Clark Trail with the Appalachian Trail. Check the trail map to see what portions of the trail are gravel, paved or less developed. If you ride a mountain or hybrid/cross bicycle, you are good to go! Travel back in time and visit Historic Sauder Village to see artisans plying their trades or hike Oak Openings with its sand dunes and endangered butterflies. If geocaching is your thing, you’re in luck – check www.geocashing.com for clues to cashes hidden all along the Wabash Trail. Last, but not least, if you enjoy railroad memorabilia, stop in at the Williams County Historical Museum in Montpelier to see an old Wabash caboose.
#5. Hockhocking Adena Bikeway – Southeast
Looking for a quiet, peaceful ride through nature? This trail is for you! The 18-mile bikeway is named for the Hocking River “Hockhocking” which in the Adena language means “bottleneck or twisted” due to the bottleneck shape of the river. The trail treks through Athens County starting in Nelsonville and follows the Hocking River connecting Hocking College and Ohio University. Within the first five miles of the trail, there is plenty of Appalachian culture with a quilt barn tour or visit to the Kennedy Museum of Art. Then, take in the scenery of Strouds Run State Park or grab a bite to eat at Cutler’s Restaurant. During the last half of the ride, consider camping at Burr Oak State Park, get a farm-to-table dinner at Rhapsody Music & Fine Dining or experience the country life at Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable and Dance Barn. This ride will also give you an opportunity to experience the Wayne National Forest – it doesn’t get more “away” or peaceful.
Up for a challenge?
The Ohio to Erie Trail is a great challenge for those looking for a long cycling journey. The 330-mile trail stretches across the state from Lake Erie in Cleveland, all the way to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. This trail is also a multipurpose trail. Bikes, skates and horses are often spotted, and in the winter, the trail becomes a snowshoe and cross-country ski trail.
If you’re interested in finding more Ohio bike trails, order the free Ohio Bike Brochure!