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Trail Facts

Name: Wabash Cannonball Trail

Length: 63 miles from Montpelier to Swanton

Counties: Williams, Fulton, Henry and Lucas

Start Point/End Point: Montpelier, Ohio to Maumee, Ohio Best access points West Unity, Wauseon, South Delta (at maintenance building), Swanton, and Maumee, Ohio

Local Trail Group: Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association (NORTA)

Surface Type: Mostly ballast with the Wauseon section being paved, improvements are ongoing

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: Flat (so flat in fact it may seem downhill, although it is not)

Season: Open year round from dawn to dusk. Out of concern for the public's safety, some sections of the trail may be closed periodically, due to agricultural spraying or during fire-arms hunting season, as the trail passes by public hunting grounds.

Features: 16 bridges—some covered—and the peaceful tranquility that is only found in the quiet reaches of the rural countryside.

Uses: Mountain Biking, Walking, Horseback Riding (some municipalities may restrict horse traffic within the city limits), Cross-Country Skiing

Parking: Best parking is in West Unity, Wauseon at Rotary Park and South Delta at State Route 109

Nearby Attractions: Sauder Village (Fulton Co.); Oak Openings Preserve (Lucas Co.)

Connecting Trails: Portions of the Wabash Cannonball Trail are also certified segments of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a hiking trail connecting the Lewis and Clark Trail in western North Dakota to the Appalachian Trail in upstate New York.

 
 

More Information

Wabash Cannonball Trail Web site

Trail of the Month Archive

 

Trail of the Month: September 2006
Wabash Cannonball Trail, Ohio

In 1990 when Norfolk Southern Railroad announced the abandonment of service on the rail line that now comprises the Wabash Cannonball Trail, local trail enthusiasts came together in a shared vision of creating a public recreational trail and utility corridor. After four years of hard work, in March 1994 the corridor was purchased for conversion into a multi-use trail.

Passing through four counties and covering a total of 63 miles, the Wabash is now one of Ohio's longest rail-trails. Incredibly, if you travel its full length, you will cross 16 bridges of which the Tiffin River Bridge is the longest (210 feet) and the Beaver Creek Bridge the highest (38 feet above water level). It also features the Gene Markley Corridor named for a long-time, local volunteer, supporter and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy board member who was tragically killed in an automobile accident.

The trail was built on the beds of two rail lines that converged in Maumee, Ohio. The 46-mile "North Fork" runs in an east-west direction nearly all the way to the Indiana state line and Montpelier, Ohio and the "South Fork" heads southwest for 17 miles to the edge of Liberty Center. Along the way, the surface of the 10- to 12-foot-wide trail varies from asphalt to hard-packed cinder ballast depending on the jurisdiction. Hikers, bikers, equestrians and cross-country skiers enjoy access to the trail throughout the year.

And the trail is popular with more than just the locals. In August 2006 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Midwest Regional Office kicked off the first Midwest Express Bike Tour on the Wabash Cannonball Trail. One hundred and fifty riders from across Ohio, eight other states and Canada began their ride at the Indiana state line and rode the trail's North Fork from Montpelier. For the first day of the three-day bike tour, riders enjoyed the Wabash's shaded corridors, quiet countryside and flat riding, before continuing on to Toledo and their journey's end in Oberlin, Ohio.

The Wabash also comprises the beginning leg of the North Coast Inland Trail, an ambitious intra-state trail project that, when completed, will stretch across the northwestern third of Ohio and will connect to the Ohio to Erie Trail which bisects the state from north to south. The entire North Coast Inland Trail is approximately 35 to 40 percent complete and the Wabash makes up about 15 percent of it.

The trail is closed to public access in two small sections near the Elmira/Burlington area and just to the east of Wauseon. However, short road detours in both cases will bring you back to the trail. When the trail is fully opened, it will be surfaced with finely crushed stone in rural areas. Asphalt will surface the trail in more densely populated ones. In the meantime you may find the surface rough in some spots. However, mountain bikers and hybrid bicyclists should have no problem traveling on all open sections of the trail.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
+1-202-331-9696