Towpath Trail

Ohio-to-Erie Trail


The Ohio-to-Erie Trail is a cross-state bikeway that's currently under construction in Ohio. [Scroll past 'Specs & Facts' to continue reading.]


Latest Update: 11/16/17 by OB - Trail Section Closure

Loveland, OH - From Friends of the Little Miami, "The Little Miami Scenic Trail is closed between Fosters and Adams Road (north of Loveland) for dead tree removal. Closure will continue through Nov. 21 or until further notice.

"For the safety of trail users and workers, please observe all closure notices and barriers. Thank you!"


SW OH: Trail Section Closure - 11/10/17 by OB -

SW OH - From Friends of the Little Miami Trail, "November 9-17: The Little Miami Scenic Trail will be closed between South Lebanon and Fosters for dead tree removal.

"For the safety of trail users and workers, please observe all closure notices and barriers."

SW OH: High Water on Columbus Trails - 11/6/17 by OB -

From Columbus MetroParks, "The following sections of the Alum Creek Trail are flooded: Trail under Agler Rd, by Innis Park, south of Easton play fields, near golf course, under Morse Rd, between Airport Drive and Ohio Dominican Campus."

SW OH: Little MiamiTrail Section Closing - 11/3/17 by OB -

There will be rolling closures along a 13.3 mile section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail between Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve and South Lebanon Ohio from November 1, 2017 through November 22, 2017 for trail maintenance.

"For the safety of trail users and workers, please observe all closure notices and barriers."

NE OH: Trail Section Closing - 10/16/17 by OB -

From their facebook page, "The Holmes County Trail will be closed for scheduled maintenance and bridge repairs October 18th & October 19th.

"The closure will be south of Holmesville starting at TR 346 and continuing south for approximately 1.1 miles to the spur to SR 83. The Trail to Millersburg will be accessible from the spur. Additional closure dates may be needed..."

SW OH: Boardwalk Getting No-Slip Surface - 10/14/17 by OB

From dispatch.com, "A nasty spill involving seven bicyclists this past July has prompted the city to clean a long wooden boardwalk on the Alum Creek Trail and place non-skid material on it.

"That should resolve a problem that had been plaguing riders for a while: A slippery route through dense woods near Easton, treacherous for unsuspecting bicyclists."

SW OH: Alum Creek Trail Closing at Innis Park - 10/4/17 by OB

From centralohiogreenways.com, "Alum Creek Trail will be closed daily at the Innis Park Boardwalk between the hours of 8am and 5pm beginning October 10th. Expected duration of [closing is] 4 days.

Trail will be barricaded. Please do not enter the work area.

NE OH: Towpath Marathon Section Closure - 9/30/17 by OB

From nps.gov, "The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park will be closed to the general public starting at dusk beginning Saturday, October 7 until 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 8."

NE OH: Towpath Section Closure - 9/28/17 by OB

From nps.gov, "The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail will be closed from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday, October 6 and 7:00 a.m. Tuesday October 10 through 6:00 p.m. Friday, October 13 from Lock 39 Trailhead to 150 feet south of Stone Road in Valley View."

SW OH: Roberts Pass Detour - 9/17/17 by OB

From Friends of Madison County Parks & Trails, "The Roberts Pass segment of the Ohio to Erie Trail will be closed between Maple Street in London to Spring Valley Road for gas pipeline repair, from Monday, September 18 through Friday, September 22..." more

SW OH: Closing the Gap in London - 9/16/17 by OB

Groundbreaking took place earlier this month for trail construction that will close about .3-miles of this gap.

The construction will extend the trail on the eastside of London -- the Roberts Pass Trail -- west to S. Walnut Street in London, OH. When construction has been completed, a .9-mile gap will remain in the trail here.

NE OH: Cleveland Towpath Progress - 8/31/17 by OB


SW OH: New Camp Chase Trail Section Coming - 8/1/17 by OB

Columbus, OH - A gap in the Camp Chase Trail will be closed soon.

Construction is scheduled to begin later this month to build a 10' wide shared-use path along Sullivant Avenue and Georgesville Road. Learn more...

NE OH: 7 Mile Trail Section under Construction - 7/12/17 by OB

Holmes County Trail: Paving has begun along the 7.3-mile trail section that extends from the Rt. 62 tunnel near Brinkhaven, to Glenmont, OH.

Upon completion of this section, there will be only one remaining segment to construct along the Holmes County Trail: the Glenmont to Killbuck trail section.

NE OH: Trees Down on Sippo Valley Trail - 7/4/17 by Sharon Cole

The sections from Ben Fulton and West Lebanon Roads were hit with downed trees and debris some time yesterday. I don't know how far the damage extends -- one tree before WL Road was too large to lift my bicycle over."

NE OH: Lake Link Trail Section Opens - 6/8/17 by OB

A .4-mile section of the Lake Link Trail has opened. When completed, this trail will link the Towpath Trail with Lake Erie, providing the final leg to the lake along the OTE route.

This new section extends from Scranton Flats over to Columbus Road.

SW OH: Columbus - Cars Using Section of Camp Chase Trail - 5/18/17 by OB

From abc6onyourside.com, "...[Tess Cunningham] was riding with Rob Luikart on the Camp Chase Trail in Columbus when a car illegally came driving down the path. Rob decided to record it on his phone. Tess said you would think this was an unusual sight, but it's not.

"'It’s been three different cars, three different occasions, still on this section of the trail though,' said Tess."

SW OH: 8-mile Little Miami Trail section gets New Asphalt - 5/13/17 by OB

From Friends Friends of the Little Miami State Park, "...An 8-mile section of trail from Camp Denison to Loveland was recently repaved, thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The work included drainage improvement and widening of the trail through downtown Loveland.

NE OH: Cleveland - Stage 3 Towpath Trail Groundbreaking - 4/22/17 by OB

From cleveland.com, "...Set for completion in late 2018, the section will extend 1.9 miles north from Steelyard Commons to Literary Road in Tremont."

Trail Specs & Facts:

Location: This cross-state trail will extend from Cincinnati to Xenia, on to Columbus, then Akron, and finally Cleveland near Lake Erie, when completed.

Class: A, B, C

Length: ~320 miles / asphalt & towpath when complete (~85% complete)

Condition: Varies

Facilities: At many of the trailheads & parks along the trail.

Parking: Xenia Station in SW OH. Lock 29 in NE OH. (See trail maps for more options.)

Worth Noting: Finished trail sections, though mostly asphalt, do include other surface types such as compacted crushed stone towpath & asphalt with chip-n-seal top coat.

Map: Ohio-to-Erie - SW OH

SW Elevation: South to North

Map: Ohio-to-Erie - NE OH

NE Elevation: South to North

The Ohio-to-Erie Trail, or OTE as it is commonly called, begins on the Ohio River in Cincinnati. The ~320-mile trail route extends northeast through Xenia Station, then Columbus, Akron and on to Cleveland where it ends near Lake Erie.

Completion of the bikeway is set for 2020. Though roughly 85% of the trail has been completed, challenges remain.

A Little History

Ed Honton was the founding father of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail concept in 1991. By taking advantage of existing trails, like the Little Miami Trail, the focus was put on bridging gaps between existing trails.

The strategy proved successful. By 2005 roughly 70% of the trail was completed. But that still left ~95 miles to be built in many different parts of the state. Some of those segments would have to cross industrial zones, where trail building is expensive, and trail routes are often hard to come by.

Fortunately, in some places rail corridors were still available along the route. But in others, portions of a corridor could no longer be converted, or they simply didn't exit, such as along the Alum Creek Trail.

In those early days of the project, optimism ran high and the initial projection for completion of the trail was 2003. After that year came and went it became obvious that those early projections were used as a motivational tool. After all, in 1991, who would have been excited about completion in 2020? Trail advocates all across the state needed to get onboard in a big way in order for a project of this scale to be built. And some wise folks, like Ed Honton, knew how to dangle a juicy carrot.

The Route

Let's take a look at the route from south to north. The official endpoint along the Ohio River is the Purple People Bridge that crosses over into Kentucky.

For a trail that uses some of Ohio's best bikeways, this is a most appropriate endpoint. Not a dead end, mind you, but rather a connection to another state!

Cincinnati Riverfront

On the Ohio-side of the Purple People Bridge, you're onboard the Ohio River Trail. Heading east toward Lunken Field, the OTE utilizes an on-road bike lane for about 2.5 miles between trail segments. Finished trail then connects with a segment of the Lunken Field Trail at Wilmer Avenue.

A connector trail at Lunken Trail, named 'Armleder & Lunken Connector' (on Google maps), continues along the Little Miami River and passes underneath Rt. 125 (Beechmont Ave.). This connector, before it turns away from the river, is on the bank opposite of where the Little Miami Trail currently ends. Once this final connection is made, it will eliminate more road riding that's required here.

Bound for Xenia Station

Once aboard the Little Miami, the fun begins. The next stretch of the OTE is all trail, an uninterrupted 58.5 miles to Xenia Station. [The bikeway is mostly continuous, with little road riding for the next ~115 miles into Columbus.] This stretch brings back memories of my 2004 OTE adventure. Though I had to deal with thunderstorms that day, there were no navigation worries when all you have to do is follow the main trail.

Little Miami
Little Miami Trail in SW Ohio

From Xenia Station, turn east and take the Prairie Grass Trail in order to stay on OTE Rt. 1.

It's a pretty straight shot past the next 3 towns along the route, Cedarville, South Charleston and London, OH, with short road sections to traverse in each. You'll tick off another 30.6 miles along the way.

Due east out of London, trail remains the same, although you'll be riding on Roberts Pass and then on the Camp Chase Trail as you make your way past Lilly Chapel en route to Darby Creek Metro Park.

Exiting the Darby Creek valley, the trail turns northeast once again as it passes through Galloway heading for Columbus, OH.

Columbus, OH

Two more short road rides along this stretch, the last of which connects with the 'Hilltop Connector' (on Google maps). This short trail segment crosses the Scioto River and deposits you on the Scioto Trail near I-670. Once onboard the Scioto Trail, you've completed 22.4 miles since leaving London.

A mostly eastward ride, but you will briefly circle back to cross a bridge. Then it's over to Confluence Park on the north bank of the Scioto River, where you'll pass by the Olentangy Trail junction. Continue east alongside the Scioto over to North Park Pavilion at Neil Avenue & W. Long Street.

Turning north on Neil, you're now on the Downtown Connector. The next 1.5 miles is a combination of wide sidewalks, bike lanes, sharrows and/or unmarked road riding.

The Ohio-to-Erie Trail website recommends taking Neil and turning east on Nationwide Blvd to Mt. Vernon Ave. to Cleveland Ave. north to rejoin the trail (wide sidewalk) at Jack Gibbs Blvd.

This next 2.8-mile trail section takes you east to the Alum Creek Trail where you turn north. But before you return to laid-back chill-along-the-trail mode, you should know that the Downtown Connector has a history of reports of broken glass along its route over the years. So consider yourself warned.

Westerville, OH

Once on the Alum Creek Trail, it's an 11-mile northbound journey to W. Schrock Road. To take the most direct route through the suburb, turn east and jump on the Schrock Road bike lane over to Charring Cross Drive where the OTE picks up again, heading north. A little further along this route, you'll pass the Bike Hub at Hanby Park just south of E. Park Street.

Westerville
Westerville Bike Paths

But if you have some extra time on your OTE journey, Westerville has a well-developed trail network of its own to explore. That includes a trail over to the southern part of Hoover Reservoir.

Another 8.3 miles north on the OTE takes you along the Genoa Twp. Trail and the Hoover Scenic Trail , which skirts the northern tip of the reservoir before ending at Wiese Road near the Old 3C Highway.

Continuous trail runs out here. And the next three OTE segments are short, disconnected sections that are still under development. For that reason, the official OTE route takes to the road here to bypass all three for now. The 12.4 mile road ride continues on the Old 3C into Sunbury. Then a short jaunt to the east over to Hartford Road to head east to Downing Road. North on Downing, which becomes Huffman Road before the route meets up with finished trail again southwest of Centerburg.

Centerburg, OH

This is a significant point along the route, simply because a nice chunk of finished trail awaits you on the next leg of the journey. The tarmac stretches another 35.2 miles into Holmes County via the Heart of Ohio Trail, Kokosing Gap and Mohican Valley Trails.

Bridge of Dreams
Bridge of Dreams near Brinkhaven, OH

For those riding the OTE out of Columbus, the Mohican Valley Trail marks the first new surface along the route. It's asphalt with a chip-n-seal topcoat. It's also the first trail where you may encounter a horse-and-buggy.

The Mohican Trail is also home to the iconic Bridge of Dreams, one of the highlights along the route. This 370' covered bridge is reported to be the 2nd longest in Ohio and the 3rd longest in the nation!

Holmes County

Just before entering the tunnel under Rt. 62, you enter Holmes County aboard the Holmes County Trail. Paved trail ends about .1-mile beyond the tunnel. However, trail is under construction from here northeast to Glenmont in 2017. Asphalt may be down sometime in late 2017, so depending on when you ride through, you may be able to continue on paved trail another 7.3 miles.

Rt. 62 Tunnel
Tunnel under Rt. 62 into Holmes County, OH

If not, you'll have to take to Rt. 62 and turn off at the Brinkhaven Trailhead. Or, go until pavement runs out and hike-a-bike to the next cross road back to 62 beyond the tunnel. Either way, serious road-riding skills are recommended in you're going to brave Rt. 62.

From Glenmont east to Killbuck the corridor is closed. The land has been acquired for trail use, but clearing and construction has yet to begin. So, the only alternative here is a road ride, most likely on Rt. 520, an 8.1-mile ride on the most direct route into Killbuck.

Killbuck, OH

Another swath of asphalt bikeway begins on the northside of Killbuck. After a few miles, the trail turns north and becomes double-wide, revealing the original configuration intended for the Holmes County Trail, a separate trail for horse-and-buggy use. From Killbuck, the pavement extends 15.8 miles over to Fredericksburg in Wayne County.

Hill Country

From Fredericksburg, it's a northeasterly 17.3 mile road ride that features the most challenging terrain along the entire OTE route. Check out this section elevation profile.

It's back to flatter terrain when you reach the Sippo Valley Trail and ride east, though the trail does have a short climb. It's worth noting that about 5 miles of the Sippo Trail has a stone surface. Take note, those with skinny tires, as the stone may not be as small or as compacted as the towpath that lies ahead.

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

10 miles further on, the towpath will lead you to the finish line near Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH. The Sippo and towpath combine for 72-mostly contiguous miles to Harvard Avenue in Cleveland. The only off-trail riding you may encounter is due to a construction closing, like the sewer project in Akron, OH. Fortunately, that detour is only a 1-mile road ride, but it will be in effect until 2019.

This last big chunk of OTE has some surface changes from towpath, to asphalt and even a bit of asphalt with chip-n-seal. The due east path along the Sippo into Massillon changes to north on the towpath. And continues through Canal Fulton, Clinton, Barberton and Akron.

After a little urban and industrial landscape, the towpath soon disappears into the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for about 20 miles or so, the route bending ever so slightly to the northwest, which will be its general heading the rest of the way.

About the only thing that may dampen your ride in the CVNP (besides rain), is if you happen to ride through during the towpath's busiest time -- a perfect weather weekend. Trail users can come out in droves here, so if you're timing is bad, expect your attention to be focused firmly on the trail ahead, rather than taking in the surrounding landscape.

Independence
Towpath Bridge in Independence, OH

At Rockside Road in Independence, OH, the trail enters the Cleveland Metroparks jurisdiction and the trail surface turns from towpath to asphalt for the rest of the journey. Two over-street bridges here (one pictured above) allow riders to avoid a couple of busier intersections.

The OTE soon comes to Harvard Road, about 5 miles from its eventual terminus. Here there are two separate, completed trail segments. The closest to Harvard is Steelyard Commons, a 1-mile section that is being extended in 2017 another 1.9-miles to the north. It will be just short of the Scranton Flats segment, which is .6-mile long and the furthest completed northern section.

About 1/2-mile north of Scranton Flats will be the future Canal Basin Park, the Ohio & Erie Towpath's northern terminus. Though the towpath will end there, a connector to Lake Erie is already in the works for the OTE. The Centennial Lake Link Trail will make that final connection.

Recent construction of the Lake Link Trail (2017), a .4-mile finished segment, extends from the southern end of Scranton Flats over to Columbus Road. When completed, this will be the connector for riders looking to dip their wheels in the lake to officially end their cross-state ride.

But completion for the Cleveland-area towpath & OTE is a few years away, 2020. So for now, brave riders itching to complete their rides will have to take to Cleveland streets to do so.

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