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tree with streak of blue paint known as blue blaze marker for hiking the buckeye trail in ohio

Hiking the Buckeye Trail

Explore 1,444 miles of this trail that takes you through every corner of the state.

Following the "Blue Blazes" that mark the Buckeye Trail

Hiking the Buckeye Trail

By Abbey Roy

Posted On: May 26, 2021

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't heard of the Appalachian Trail: a 2,200-mile hiking trail that winds through 14 states - from Georgia to Maine.

The Buckeye Trail is lesser known, but a dedicated group of volunteers work to change that. Not only by spreading the word about the scenic route that travels the perimeter of the state, but by continuously working to maintain and improve it.

The first 20 miles of the Buckeye Trail were dedicated in 1959 in Hocking County by the fledgling Buckeye Trail Association, whose members continued their work until the trail was completed in 1980. Since then, the "Blue Blazes" have continued to make their mark in forests, farmlands, small towns and metropolises throughout Ohio.

stone benches along trail and green woods

Though my husband and I would have loved to dedicate a few months to hiking the Buckeye Trail in its entirety this summer, we settled for just a stretch of it to start out with — and were very impressed with what we saw. Conveniently, since much of our hike ran in conjunction with a portion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, parking was available in a special lot in town.

Our hike started in the quaint village of Bolivar, from which the blue blazes led us on a stroll through the town before coming to the Fort Laurens State Memorial, where the state's only Revolutionary War fort once stood. The path was clearly marked, though we had consulted the Buckeye Trail Association website beforehand to check our route and be sure of where we were going.

tree with streak of blue paint known as blue blaze marker for hiking the buckeye trail in ohio
Photo credit: The Buckeye Trail Association, Facebook

We didn't discover until later that the Buckeye Trail departed slightly from the towpath at this point (we followed it on the way back), but the two merged as we crossed a bridge over I-77 toward Zoar, our destination for the day. The trail was well-kept and the scenery varied, from grazing fields to forest to marshy areas. It also ran alongside the Tuscarawas River, where we spotted a few sunbathing turtles in our wanderings.

In Zoar, we stopped for lunch at the Canal Tavern of Zoar, built in 1829 by the Society of Separatists of Zoar to feed and house travelers along the canal. The food was delicious, the service impeccable and the grounds inviting and well-kept. Our hike back to Bolivar ended with ice cream at another local joint, the Canal Street Diner.

While we didn't have an opportunity to camp along the trail, but you can learn more about the campsites and locations by checking the Section Maps. Before you go, make sure to get a map, which are available in the online store. Also consider visiting at trail event to talk to seasoned hikers.

If a Buckeye Trail hike is in your future, you should pick up a copy the book "Follow the Blue Blazes," a comprehensive resource that'll serve as your insider's guide to all things Buckeye Trail. 

But most importantly, enjoy your hike! 

For more outdoor adventures, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.

 

*Originally written in June 2015, updated May 2021

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