With the completion of brush-clearing and creek bridge construction, the Heart Of Ohio Trail opened in 2009 in Knox County in an unpaved, natural state. Enough paving was completed in 2013 to add a smooth ribbon of asphalt to connect Centerburg with Mt. Liberty, Bangs and Mt. Vernon's westside.
The only gaps that remain now are at each end of the trail. In Mt. Vernon, a small gap remains where the Heart Of Ohio Trail and the Kokosing Trail have yet to connect.
There is also a gap between the Heart of Ohio Trail and the next segment to the southwest along the Ohio-to-Erie Trail. This gap is between Huffman Road and the Licking County line at N. County Line Rd.
The newest segment, 2.2-mile trail section, was opened in December 2016. It connects the new trail overpass at U.S. 36/Ohio Rt. 3 with finished trail to the northeast and into Centerburg. This leaves only about a 1.7-mile unfinished segment southwest of the bridge over to the Licking County line to complete the trail.
At the time of this review, paved trail began at Clayton Street in Centerburg and extended north to the westside of Mt. Vernon.
Heading east out of Centerburg and crossing Rt. 3, the paved trail slices through a crop field and adjoining property before it heads back into the cover of trees and brush.
There's a small gravel parking lot in Mt. Liberty, along with a trailside shelter. The structure, along with a bike rack and picnic table are nearby, courtesy of a local scout troop.
Just outside of Mt. Vernon the trail moves alongside a drag strip where the trail appears to have been moved over slightly to accomodate the raceway.
The rebuilt bridge structures over the creeks along the route are first rate. They are made of concrete, which if properly supported, will far outlast their wooden-decked counterparts that become rough, uneven and even dangerous when not maintained properly.
The paving contractor, Kokosing Construction, did a fine job. The quality of the pavement matches nicely with the solid creek bridges installed earlier. The total trail build here is impressive and top notch.
Now that the Centerburg to Mt. Vernon section is complete, the next phase will involve construction of a viaduct underpass at Main Street in Mt. Vernon where the trail currently ends. (You have to cross several lanes of traffic at this time.) The underpass will link the trail to the downtown connector and bring the Heart of Ohio Trail one step closer to connecting with the Nearby Kokosing Gap Trail.
Length: 14.5 mi asphalt (Approx. 16 when complete)
Facilities: In-season restroom at Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon. Porto-johns in Memorial Park in Centerburg. Water spigot just east of the band shell. Trailside shelter in Mt. Liberty.
Food: In town in Centerburg or Mt. Vernon. A gas station mini-mart just south of the trail crossing at Rt 314.
Parking: Trailside at Memorial Park in Centerburg off Rt 314; Simmons Church Rd in Mt. Liberty; Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon; Thayer Rd west of Mt. Vernon.
Centerburg Mt-Liberty Bangs Johnson-Ave Kokosing-Gap
14.4mi 9.9mi 5.6mi 2.1mi 0mi