[Alert! Attempted abduction along Olentangy Trail at Whetstone High School.]
What started as Ohio's first rail-trail in 1967, has developed into an ever-growing network of Columbus, Ohio bikeways today. The growing infrastructure includes bike lanes and connectors to tie trails together. This will include a connector to the Ohio-to-Erie Trail as it makes its way over to the nearby Alum Creek Greenway Trail which parallels the Olentangy to the east.
The Olentangy and Lower Scioto Trails are often referred to as separate trails. But the northern Olentangy is aligned with the lower Scioto to the south and together they provide a longer segment, hence the Olentangy-Scioto moniker here.
A new trail link was completed late in 2013 that connects the Upper Scioto (west side) Trail with the Lower Scioto and Olentangy Trails. This west side link will also connect with the Camp Chase Trail that will enter Columbus from the southwest along the Ohio-to-Erie Trail route.
This review covers the approximately 20 mile corridor from Frank Road to Worthington Hills Park, north of I-270 north.
From the southern terminus near Frank Road and heading north, the trail passes through Berliner Park, along the edge of German Village, on through downtown Columbus and the OSU campus. Continuing northward it passes through several parks before ending at Worthington Hills Park.
Highlights along the trail include: Downtown Columbus (where you ride within a few feet of the Santa Maria replica), OSU stadium, and several scenic parks.
The bikeway has a posted speed limit of 15 mph. Though much of the trail has been updated and is in very good condition, some sharp corners and congested areas make speeding along the trail risky business. The surface varies from asphalt to concrete which includes some sidewalks.
Construction upgrades along the trail are ongoing. If you're unfamiliar with the trail, it's a good idea to have a map in hand. Also, you may want to check with the trail overseers regarding closures or detours before heading out. If you find yourself riding the roads between trailheads or searching for a detour around construction, good luck! There are a few bike route signs here and there, but they will not prevent you from losing your way. For unfamiliar visitors, the area can be a confusion of city streets and connecting paths.
On our memorable first visit to this trail we carried a small map with detailed directions. Despite that precaution, it took almost 2 1/2 hours to make our way along an 18 mile trail section. Unfortunately the map was a little out of date. That experience provided the lesson that bikeways that traverse busy urban areas are not always contiguous, which means finding your way between trail sections can be daunting at times.
We haven't visited the southern portion of the trail, the Lower Scioto, for quite some time. So we cannot report as to whether it has been updated along with the northern Olentangy sections which are in great shape.
This bikeway provides a unique way to connect to various points of interest in Columbus by bicycle. However, first time visitors attempting to find their way on their own will be in for a real adventure. Do your homework before you trail ride here, or better yet, find a local to show you around!
Length: 18.3 miles / asphalt & concrete - width varies from 6-10' (with some narrower sidewalks)
Condition: Good to Very Good
Facilities: Restrooms & water at many parks along the trail.
Food: Many possibilities if you're interested in wandering off the trail a bit in German Village, downtown or the Short North areas. Ben Walum writes, "...there are restaurants such as Subway and Nancy's Home Cooking in the vicinity of Pacemont Road (Subway) and California (Nancy's Cooking) on High St. ...there is also a Wendy's restaurant across from the fire station in Clintonville."
Parking: There are a number of parks along the bikeway you can use. Antrim Lake Park seems to be a popular facility.
Worthington-Hills Antrim Whetstone Scioto-Junction Berliner-Park
18.3mi 16.7mi 13.6mi 5.7mi 1mi 0mi