In its short span of only a couple of miles, this trail moves from street level through rock and below ground, to 60 feet above a valley floor. The trail manages to keep a level plane by burrowing through a hillside by way of an impressive 522' long tunnel and skimming over a valley with a 342' long over-street bridge. The breathtaking view from the wooden decked bridge is seen through an almost totally enclosed chain link fence (for safety).
The tunnel is simply magnificent. Originally constructed in 1902, it was rehabbed in 1949 and again in 1997. (More recent repairs were completed in 2009.) It's lighted and holds an impressive 42' high ceiling. A few puddles lie here and there on the trail surface inside. They are formed by trickling ground water that seeps through the upper structure from the earth that rests on top some 80' above the trail surface. There's definitely a cave-like feel when you ride through and a noticeable temperature change as well.
Chad McLeish sent word regarding the most recent restoration work in late 2009. See the Updates page for details.
You can get a bird's eye view of the trail by climbing a series of stairways that were constructed to reach a viewing platform atop the tunnel.
The restoration of the existing railroad bridge and tunnel certainly make this bikeway a very interesting ride, but the trail designers didn't stop there. They decided to create their own unique centerpiece. They built a gazebo right on the trail. Not alongside the trail, but smack dab in the middle of it! It may sound odd, and frankly, I'm not sure I like it. But I have to give them credit for trying something very different.
The gazebo is nicely done and beautifully landscaped. There are benches, flowers, and a walkway that circles the structure. There's also a separate nature trail that connects nearby. The bikeway abuts the perimeter of the gazebo at opposite sides.
Since the trail does not circumvent the gazebo, it forces users to stop (or at least pause) and take notice. And my guess is this was part of the designers plan. By putting the gazebo on the trail it becomes an integral part of the bikeway, a real focal point. Had it been placed off to one side, it would most likely have served as mere decoration.
What may be at the heart of this trail's appeal is the overall plan and design of the bikeway. This project wasn't a "hey, let's put down some asphalt and call it a bike trail!" It was very complete and encompassed not only restoration of old structures, but integration of these structures and the trail itself, into the local community.
This trail is frequently reported as being 4 or more miles long. Some publications correctly mention that this distance includes on-road bike lanes that connect nearby neighborhoods to the trail. The trail itself is 2.5 miles in length.
Sometimes the reported lengths of Ohio trails are inflated. Perhaps the thinking is that if a trail seems too short, people may not be as inclined to check it out. No worries when it comes to the National Road Bikeway. It's definitely a worthwhile visit!
Length: 2.5 miles / asphalt - approx. 10' wide
Condition: Very Good
Facilities: Water fountain & benches at the gazebo. Portable toilets available.
Food: In St. Clairsville.
Parking: Chad McLeish writes "...plenty of parking is available where the trail intersects Station Street."
A few spaces available at the gazebo on Sunset Drive. Directions - Take exit 216 from Rt. 70 & head north on S. Mariette St (Rt. 9). Turn left on Woodrow Ave. (don't let the marked bike lanes fool you; they go in the opposite direction). Woodrow will bend left and soon become Hutchinson, then Sunset Dr (it's the same street, only the names have changed). Soon after Woodrow picks up Hutchinson you will see the gazebo on your right, then parking spaces a little further down on your left.
Parking also at the northern terminus at the ball fields on N. Market St. close to Provident Rd.
Resevoir-Rd National-Rd City-Ball-Fields
2.5mi 1mi 0mi