By Lynda Warner
Although only about 12.5 miles long, when ridden in conjunction with the Lake County Greenway Trail the Maple Highlands Trail can be the route to get you from Painesville to Middlefield. Any type of bike can navigate this trail, which is primarily a converted railroad bed. At this time, it is a stand-alone biking trail consisting of two sections, and one must navigate Chardon Square on his own to get from one to the other.
Northern Section - (North of Chardon): 4.2 miles
This part of the Maple Highlands Trail extends from South St. (State Rt. 44) just outside of town, north to Girdled Road. Much of it runs between route 44 and the tree line that runs between it and some housing areas. There are also some sections that slip into the wooded area, also. At the end of the trail, by riding east on Girdled Road and then north on Ravenna Road, one can connect with the Lake County Greenway Trail, which heads straight north into Painesville.
Southern Section - (South of Chardon): 8.2 miles
This section extends from South Street just south of the square and ends at the entrance to Headwaters Park on Old State Road (Rt. 608) in Claridon. There is one very nice, modern composting toilet, located at the Mountain Run Station off of Chardon Windsor Road. There is an asphalt parking lot and picnic area here also, but no running water.
Heading east/southeast from South Street, the trail makes its way alongside this pleasant country town and is shared by hikers, dog walkers and inline skaters. Covered bridges cross over two roads and a creek, and then it becomes very straight, reminiscent of its origins as a railroad track, and becomes a rural ride.
Due to the trees that line both sides throughout most of the route, it is pleasantly shady, with open fields and farmlands visible at times. There are four road crossings, two of them Old State Road (Rt.608) and Mayfield Road (Rt. 322) fairly well-traveled but well-marked. One might encounter bikers of many types along this route, from families with young children to teens to couples as well as more serious, solo bikers.
The southern extremity of this trail ends at Headwaters, a Geauga County park with hiking trails and a reservoir for fishing and boating. By heading to the left on the dirt park road, primitive restrooms and water spigots can be found.
The plan is to extend the Maple Highlands trail south through the village of Middlefield, and on to Parkman. [This 7-mile section will take travelers from Headwaters Park in Claridon Township to Reeves Road in Parkman Township.]
Length: 12 miles / asphalt (spurs not included) - 2 separate sections -
Facilities: Restrooms available at the 3 parks along the trail: Big Creek, Mountain Run Station (no water here) & Headwaters Park.
Food: There are a number of restaurants on Chardon Square, which is less than a mile east of where the southern trail section ends on South Street. It's an interesting place to visit. There are also about every fast food establishment on Water Street, just down the hill from the Square.
Parking: Lots available at the 3 parks along the trail: Big Creek, Mountain Run Station & Headwaters Park.
Lake-Cnty-Trail Big-Creek-Spur Chardon Mountain-Run-Spur Headwaters-Park
(18.3mi) 13mi 9.1mi 7.5mi 0mi