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Using Trails

Ohio to Erie Trail Photo Essay

By: Laura Stark
July 21, 2018

“It was a fantastic experience that really opened my eyes to the potential of a well-planned-out trail system,” said Karidis. “Pick friends to ride with who make you laugh and enjoy each moment—you are lucky.” Wille Karidis, Eric Oberg, Eli Griffen and Marty Cader ready for an adventure on the Ohio to Erie Trail | Photo by Marty Cader
“It was a fantastic experience that really opened my eyes to the potential of a well-planned-out trail system,” said Karidis. “Pick friends to ride with who make you laugh and enjoy each moment—you are lucky.” Wille Karidis, Eric Oberg, Eli Griffen and Marty Cader ready for an adventure on the Ohio to Erie Trail | Photo by Marty Cader

Experience the Ohio to Erie Trail, as told through the eyes of four friends who pedaled more than 350 miles on the pathway, which spans Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie to the mighty Ohio River. Although still a work in progress, most of the expansive project is complete, linking more than a dozen trails and Ohio’s three largest cities on a rolling tour through the state’s quintessential landscapes. Want a learn a little more? Get a quick intro straight from the adventurers themselves!

The four friends began their journey at the north end of the Ohio to Erie Trail on the Lake Erie shoreline and continued through Cleveland on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which spans more than 80 miles. Ohio to Erie Trail in Cleveland | Photo by Eli Griffen
The four friends began their journey at the north end of the Ohio to Erie Trail on the Lake Erie shoreline and continued through Cleveland on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which spans more than 80 miles. Ohio to Erie Trail in Cleveland | Photo by Eli Griffen
“A highlight was Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including a wonderful sighting of a nesting peregrine falcon,” said Eric Oberg, director of trail development for RTC’s Midwest Regional Office. “The park transitions into downtown Akron, which has done a great job of taking the trail through an urban setting.” Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in downtown Akron | Photo by Bruce S. Ford, courtesy Summit Metro Parks
“A highlight was Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including a wonderful sighting of a nesting peregrine falcon,” said Eric Oberg, director of trail development for RTC’s Midwest Regional Office. “The park transitions into downtown Akron, which has done a great job of taking the trail through an urban setting.” Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in downtown Akron | Photo by Bruce S. Ford, courtesy Summit Metro Parks
After leaving the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the adventurers had a 72-mile day ahead of them. They traveled west through Ohio’s Amish countryside on the 10-mile Sippo Valley Trail to Dalton and had a memorable stop at Lehman’s Hardware, an Amish supply store in Kidron, as they continued on road. | Photo by Eli Griffen
After leaving the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the adventurers had a 72-mile day ahead of them. They traveled west through Ohio’s Amish countryside on the 10-mile Sippo Valley Trail to Dalton and had a memorable stop at Lehman’s Hardware, an Amish supply store in Kidron, as they continued on road. | Photo by Eli Griffen
From Dalton, the team pedaled a 17-mile on-road stretch to Fredericksburg, then picked up the Holmes County Trail. “Amish Country was just culturally enlightening and fun,” said Oberg. “We enjoyed all the cool handmade signs along the way advertising handmade furniture, farm goods and leatherwork. Passing horses and buggies along the duel-use trail was a wonderful experience.” Ohio’s Amish Country | Photo by Willie Karidis
From Dalton, the team pedaled a 17-mile on-road stretch to Fredericksburg, then picked up the Holmes County Trail. “Amish Country was just culturally enlightening and fun,” said Oberg. “We enjoyed all the cool handmade signs along the way advertising handmade furniture, farm goods and leatherwork. Passing horses and buggies along the duel-use trail was a wonderful experience.” Ohio’s Amish Country | Photo by Willie Karidis
“I really liked the Holmes County Trail,” said Willie Karidis, RTC’s Route of the Badger project manager, who particularly enjoyed the section between Glenmont and Gann, which opened in late 2017 and passes through rock cuts. “It was brand new and had some major hills, but it was beautiful.” Holmes County Trail’s newest section between Glenmont and Gann | Photo by Eli Griffen
“I really liked the Holmes County Trail,” said Willie Karidis, RTC’s Route of the Badger project manager, who particularly enjoyed the section between Glenmont and Gann, which opened in late 2017 and passes through rock cuts. “It was brand new and had some major hills, but it was beautiful.” Holmes County Trail’s newest section between Glenmont and Gann | Photo by Eli Griffen
From Gann, the cadre picked up the Mohican Valley Trail, traversing the Mohican River via the aptly named Bridge of Dreams, the longest covered trail bridge in Ohio. Bridge of Dreams on the Mohican Valley Trail | Photo by Eli Griffen
From Gann, the cadre picked up the Mohican Valley Trail, traversing the Mohican River via the aptly named Bridge of Dreams, the longest covered trail bridge in Ohio. Bridge of Dreams on the Mohican Valley Trail | Photo by Eli Griffen
“Day 3 was a wonderful 68-mile ride from Danville to Columbus,” said Oberg, who had organized the logistics of the trip. “From Danville, we were on the Kokosing Gap Trail. This was a wonderful trail, with some great river views and a superb trailhead in Gambier, complete with a train locomotive and cars to see.” Kokosing Gap Trail in Gambier | Photo by Eli Griffen
“Day 3 was a wonderful 68-mile ride from Danville to Columbus,” said Oberg, who had organized the logistics of the trip. “From Danville, we were on the Kokosing Gap Trail. This was a wonderful trail, with some great river views and a superb trailhead in Gambier, complete with a train locomotive and cars to see.” Kokosing Gap Trail in Gambier | Photo by Eli Griffen
“My favorite trailside attraction was definitely the new Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon,” said Eli Griffen, RTC’s manager of trail development resources. “The park is impressive, beautiful and incredibly well done. They preserved a lot of the structures of a former glass-making factory that really gives the park visual interest and rich history.” Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon | Photo by Eric Oberg
“My favorite trailside attraction was definitely the new Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon,” said Eli Griffen, RTC’s manager of trail development resources. “The park is impressive, beautiful and incredibly well done. They preserved a lot of the structures of a former glass-making factory that really gives the park visual interest and rich history.” Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon | Photo by Eric Oberg
“The ride from Mt. Vernon through Centerburg and Sundbury brought about a transition to more classic Midwest farmland,” said Oberg of the next leg of the journey on the Heart of Ohio Trail. “Lots of corn and soybean fields.” Heart of Ohio Trail | Photo by Chuck Gulker
“The ride from Mt. Vernon through Centerburg and Sundbury brought about a transition to more classic Midwest farmland,” said Oberg of the next leg of the journey on the Heart of Ohio Trail. “Lots of corn and soybean fields.” Heart of Ohio Trail | Photo by Chuck Gulker
“We made it through Westerville and then enjoyed the Alum Creek Greenway Trail very much,” said Oberg of the trail which runs through the east side of Columbus. “It is truly a shining star for how a trail can be both beautiful and useful in an urban setting.” Alum Creek Greenway Trail | Photo by Brian Housh
“We made it through Westerville and then enjoyed the Alum Creek Greenway Trail very much,” said Oberg of the trail which runs through the east side of Columbus. “It is truly a shining star for how a trail can be both beautiful and useful in an urban setting.” Alum Creek Greenway Trail | Photo by Brian Housh
“Day 4 was 80 miles from Columbus to Yellow Springs,” said Oberg. “This was memorable for literally raining hard non-stop for 8 hours. We still had a blast seeing the Camp Chase Trail to get us through western Columbus.” Camp Chase Trail | Photo by Brian Housh
“Day 4 was 80 miles from Columbus to Yellow Springs,” said Oberg. “This was memorable for literally raining hard non-stop for 8 hours. We still had a blast seeing the Camp Chase Trail to get us through western Columbus.” Camp Chase Trail | Photo by Brian Housh
Traveling between London, Ohio, and Xenia on the Prairie Grass Trail, the friends had an interesting wildlife encounter. “We were fascinated and a little surprised by all the snakes and frogs that came out while we were riding in the rain,” said Griffen. “Although they seemed surprised to see us, too!” Prairie Grass Trail | Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails
Traveling between London, Ohio, and Xenia on the Prairie Grass Trail, the friends had an interesting wildlife encounter. “We were fascinated and a little surprised by all the snakes and frogs that came out while we were riding in the rain,” said Griffen. “Although they seemed surprised to see us, too!” Prairie Grass Trail | Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails
Day 5, the explorers journeyed 82 miles from Yellow Springs to Cincinnati on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, an inductee in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame and Griffen’s hands-down favorite: “The scenery is spectacular—the northern end passes mostly through farmland, while the southern end passes through woods and along the Little Miami River.” | Photo by Eli Griffen
Day 5, the explorers journeyed 82 miles from Yellow Springs to Cincinnati on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, an inductee in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame and Griffen’s hands-down favorite: “The scenery is spectacular—the northern end passes mostly through farmland, while the southern end passes through woods and along the Little Miami River.” | Photo by Eli Griffen
“From Xenia south, the trail is just simply like a magic carpet ride,” said Oberg about the Little Miami Scenic Trail. “Beautiful scenery, including the Little Miami National Scenic River much of the way, and charming towns to boot. The amazing job that Loveland, near Cincinnati, has done bringing its business community in touch with the trail is of particular note. What a great place!” Little Miami Scenic Trail | Photo by Eli Griffen
“From Xenia south, the trail is just simply like a magic carpet ride,” said Oberg about the Little Miami Scenic Trail. “Beautiful scenery, including the Little Miami National Scenic River much of the way, and charming towns to boot. The amazing job that Loveland, near Cincinnati, has done bringing its business community in touch with the trail is of particular note. What a great place!” Little Miami Scenic Trail | Photo by Eli Griffen
“As we neared Cincinnati, we got our first glimpse of the mighty Ohio River,” said Oberg. “We also saw the city skyline downriver to the west. We were able to ride small completed sections of the Ohio River Trail, finishing the ride at Smale Riverfront Park in downtown Cincinnati. We found a ramp to the river’s edge and rode down to place our front tires in the river to officially finish our ride.” Ohio River Trail | Photo by Eric Oberg
“As we neared Cincinnati, we got our first glimpse of the mighty Ohio River,” said Oberg. “We also saw the city skyline downriver to the west. We were able to ride small completed sections of the Ohio River Trail, finishing the ride at Smale Riverfront Park in downtown Cincinnati. We found a ramp to the river’s edge and rode down to place our front tires in the river to officially finish our ride.” Ohio River Trail | Photo by Eric Oberg
“It was a fantastic experience that really opened my eyes to the potential of a well-planned-out trail system,” said Karidis. “Pick friends to ride with who make you laugh and enjoy each moment—you are lucky.” Wille Karidis, Eric Oberg, Eli Griffen and Marty Cader ready for an adventure on the Ohio to Erie Trail | Photo by Marty Cader
“It was a fantastic experience that really opened my eyes to the potential of a well-planned-out trail system,” said Karidis. “Pick friends to ride with who make you laugh and enjoy each moment—you are lucky.” Wille Karidis, Eric Oberg, Eli Griffen and Marty Cader ready for an adventure on the Ohio to Erie Trail | Photo by Marty Cader

Produced by Rails to Trails magazine. Photos by Eric Oberg, Eli Griffen, Willie Karidis and Marty Cader. Edited by Laura Stark.

Laura Stark | Photo courtesy Laura Stark
Laura Stark

Laura Stark is the senior editor for Rails to Trails magazine, responsible for highlighting trails and the people working hard to support them across America.

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