[Alert: After the court settlement, the trail only has 2 short .9 mile sections open.]
Our visit to the Huron River Greenway came on the heels of high water and flooding in Ohio in August 2007. Unprecedented downpours totaling up to 9 inches of rain that fell in a matter of a few hours devasted communities in a number of counties across the state. Since the greenway follows the banks of the Huron River as well as the old Milan Canal, we had little hope of seeing much of the trail. As it turned out, some flooding of the lower banks did occur, but most of the finished trail seemed unaffected.
The greenway extends from Milan to Huron with a break in the trail where the Ohio Turnpike passes overhead. There may be ownership issues left to resolve here or construction challenges. Regardless, the two sections are worth exploring if you're in the area. The northern section extends from the Dupont Marsh Nature Preserve off River Road to just south of Mason Road, a distance of roughly 3 miles.
This segment features a well-graded surface that is broad and flat in some areas and narrower in others. The narrow sections are about 10' wide and have shoulders built up with large stone. There are perhaps one or two steep drop offs along the edge, but those may appear less ominous when the water fully recedes. One should still take care though, especially if riding with small children.
South of Mason Road the trail is unfinished, but open to the public. We only ventured a short distance before turning back after passing the Nickel Plate Overpass. The surface was too saturated and soft to continue without turning into a rolling mud ball.
The other trail section starts in Milan where Main Street dead ends to the north. The finished trail here is quite short, but we squished over an unfinished portion until we reached the endpoint, about 1.8 miles further north. The old towpath views here are probably much better than those we witnessed after the high water. Tall grasses that filled the old canal were bent over flat with murky water all around. A pungent farm-like aroma persisted, along with the occasional gnat swarms that patrolled the brown-stained vegetation that receding waters revealed. High waters had recently ruled and they were still making their presence felt.
If you've followed the progress of this greenway project, you know that it has overcome a number of hurdles. Posted warning signs along the trail still echo the concerns of local property owners and former conflicts. When completed, this trail will provide a nice connecting ride from Milan to Huron. Huron riders are already using River Road to travel from Rt. 6 to the closest trailhead. The road is nice and wide and even has a bike lane that extends part way.
Signs along the trail are first rate and feature a number of historical markers. We've captured their text for you on the photo highlights below.
Also, see Steven Myers review.
Length: About 1.8 miles, 10-14' wide - two separate sections of .9 mi each
Condition: Finished sections: Very Good
Food: Steven Myers notes: "Sit-down restaurants are in Huron; fast food outlets are at the Rye Beach Rd interchange of US 6/Ohio 2 (4 miles west)."
Parking: Just south of Huron along River Road, look for the Erie County water tower. There's a trailhead there that's shared with the Dupont Marsh Nature Preserve. Mason Road parking lots on either side of the road where the trail crosses. In Milan where Main Street dead ends to the north, parking on right along the fence line. Steven Myers adds: "DO NOT park on the right of the trail, in front of the old warehouse building. You will be ticketed and/or towed! Park on the LEFT side, near the woods, or up in the town square, and ride down."