Peru has the Inca Trail and North America has the Appalachian Trail, but much less demanding and tastier is Butler County’s new Donut Trail. And the name is exactly what it implies – a trail to discover the best donut shops in Butler County and of course, explore that area of Ohio as well.
To begin, you will need the official Donut Trail Passport which includes all 12 stops: Central Pastry Shop, Holtman’s Donuts, Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, Kelly’s Bakery, Martin’s Donuts, Milton’s Donuts, Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery, Oxford Doughnut Shoppe, Ross Bakery (both locations), Stan the Donut Man, The Donut House, The Donut Spot.
When I heard about this trail, I came up with a plan to discover all nine donut shops and see which specialties they had. Not living close to Butler County, I booked a room at the very trendy, AC Hotel by Marriott at Liberty Center in West Chester, so that I could get an early start on the Donut Trail and explore Liberty Center. You see, some of the donut shops start selling their tasty treats during the wee hours of the morning.
Having researched the Butler County website, I planned my strategy, which had me eating my first donut at 5:30 am. Eyes half-closed, I walked into the largest and oldest donut purveyor on the trail, Milton’s. The multitudes of donuts in the expansive cases made it a difficult choice for me. I chose a fried cheesecake donut, recommended to me by the friendly clerk. Just like tasting a new wine, I inhaled the freshly baked aroma, examined the texture and let the flavor linger in my mouth. What an awakening!
Each spot on the trail has a specialty and a a story. Oxford donuts is not only known for their old fashioned, hand cut donuts, but also for Uncle Jack who works their counter. And of course, who doesn’t know of the stereotypical image of police and donuts? Well, Mimi, a retired police officer and owner of the eponymous donut shop, made that connection a reality. At Martin’s, we were early enough to catch the owner who told us he has increased his donut production to keep up with the demand from those doing the Donut Trail.
In fact, some of the donuts are so popular that you might see a long line out the door, and not surprisingly the conversation focuses on favorite donuts and eavesdropping helped me with my choice. I noticed that many people don’t buy just a donut or two, but several boxes of these special treats. That popularity could cause one of the spots to shut their doors before closing time – often noon – when their supply is exhausted!
Each bakery had a supply of passports and a special code word that you enter on the passport. Upon completion of your passport after visiting all nine donut shops, you are eligible to receive a commemorative t-shirt for your efforts.
I encountered plenty of folks with their passports in hand, many of whom came long distances to experience this most delicious trail. A non-scientific study – done by yours truly – suggested that the glazed donut is the crowd favorite at many of the bakeries. But, don’t let my research limit you; there were many tempting options to choose from – Reese’s, maple-glazed, fried cheese, cheesecake, red velvet, bacon-topped and of course, a buckeye version.
Don’t worry about completing the trail, which is about 75 miles and takes a minimum four hours, in one day. The Donut Trail introduced me to Oxford, Hamilton, Fairfield and Jungle Jim’s and whetted my appetite (no pun intended) for another visit to the area.
For more Ohio bites, Find It Here at Ohio.org.