The Ohio-to-Erie Trail is a cross-state bikeway that extends from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to
Lake Erie at Cleveland. The trail is open, even though it is not completed. Road riding is
where trail gaps have yet to be closed along this ~320-mile corridor. [Scroll past 'Specs
Facts' to continue reading.]
The Ohio-to-Erie Trail, or OTE as it is commonly called, begins on the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
~320-mile trail route extends northeast through Xenia Station, then
Columbus, Akron and on to Cleveland where it ends near Lake Erie.
It's important to understand that this lengthy route uses different bikeways (with different
to make up its route. So, if you decide to ignore that fact and simply follow the
Route 1 signs instead, don't be surprised if you occasionally ride off course.
The Kokosing Gap Trail section of the OTE in Knox County, Ohio
Being aware of these different sections can also help you with finding lodging, water stops and
closures due to construction. (Though we do try to list all the long term closures we can find
the 'Latest Updates' section on this page.)
Completion of the OTE was set for 2020, but it's clear that 2 large gaps in the trail totalling
roughly 25 miles will remain after that deadline.
Currently, roughly 89% of the trail has been completed.
A Little History
Ed Honton was the founding father of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail concept in 1991. By taking advantage
existing trails, like the Little Miami Trail, the focus
on bridging gaps between existing trails.
The strategy proved successful. By 2005 roughly 70% of the trail was completed. But that still
~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
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
Alum Creek Trail.
In those early days of the project, optimism ran high and the initial projection for completion
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
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
Let's take a look at the route from south to north. The official endpoint along the Ohio River is
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
end, mind you, but rather a connection to another state!
On the Ohio-side of the Purple People Bridge, you're onboard the Ohio River Trail. Heading east toward Lunken
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
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.).
connector, before it turns away from the river, is on the bank opposite of where the Little Miami Trail currently ends. Once this final
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
memories of my 2004 OTE adventure. Though I had to deal with thunderstorms that day, there were
navigation worries when all you have to do is follow the main trail.
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
off another 30.6 miles along the way.
Due east out of London, the bikeway 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.
Two more short road rides along this stretch, the last of which connects with the 'Hilltop
(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.
next 1.5 miles is a combination of wide sidewalks, bike lanes, sharrows and/or unmarked road
website recommends taking Neil and turning east on Nationwide Blvd to Mt. Vernon Ave. to
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
mode, you should know that the Downtown Connector has a history of reports of broken glass along
route over the years. So consider yourself warned.
Once on the Alum Creek Trail, it's an 11-mile northbound journey to W. Schrock Road. To
the most direct route through the suburb, turn east and jump on the Schrock Road bike lane over
Charring Cross Drive where the OTE picks up again, heading north. A little further along
route, you'll pass the Bike Hub at Hanby Park just south of E. Park Street.
Westerville Bike Paths
If you have some extra time on your OTE journey, Westerville has a well-developed trail network
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
Trail and the Hoover Scenic Trail , which skirts
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
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.
a short jaunt to the east over to Hartford Road to head east to Downing Road.
Downing, which becomes Huffman Road before the route meets up with finished trail again
southwest of Centerburg.
For those riding the OTE out of Columbus, the Mohican Valley Trail marks the first trail where
can encounter horse-and-buggy travelers. And when horses share the trail, that means you may see
thin chip-n-seal topcoat at any time.
As of Nov 2017, the topcoat has been ground down here by hooves and buggy wheels to reveal smooth
asphalt. However, it may be reapplied at any time to help protect the asphalt surface.
The Mohican Trail is also home to the iconic Bridge of Dreams, one of the highlights along the
This 370' covered bridge is reported to be the 2nd longest in Ohio and the 3rd longest in the
Just before entering the tunnel under Rt. 62, you enter Holmes County aboard the Holmes County Trail. As of November 2017, new paved
extends 7.4 miles to Clifton Street in Glenmont, Ohio.
Tunnel under Rt. 62 into Holmes County, OH
From Glenmont east to Killbuck the corridor is closed. This section is the final missing
in completing the 29-mile Holmes County Trail portion of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail. The land has
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
Another swath of asphalt bikeway begins on the northside of Killbuck. After a few miles, the
turns north and becomes double-wide, revealing the original configuration intended for the
County Trail, a separate trail for horse-and-buggy use. From Killbuck, the pavement extends 15.8
miles over to Fredericksburg in Wayne County.
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
5 miles of the Sippo Trail has a stone surface. Take note, those with skinny tires, as the stone
not be as small or as compacted as the towpath that lies ahead.
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
Important Note: For those unfamiliar with riding towpath, this is an unpaved,
crushed stone surface. It will support skinny tires (watch out for loose areas). But towpaths
low-lying areas prone to flooding. If you plan your ride during or just after major rain
events, you may face closed sections and/or a sloppy trail surface.
After your 10-mile ride on the Sippo Trail, the towpath will lead you to the finish line near
Erie in Cleveland, OH.
The Sippo and towpath combine for 72-mostly contiguous miles to Harvard Avenue in
The only off-trail riding you may encounter is due to a construction closing, like the sewer
construction project in Akron, OH. Fortunately, that detour is only a 1-mile road ride,
it will be in effect into 2019.
This last big chunk of OTE has some surface changes that vary between towpath, asphalt, boardwalk
even a bit of asphalt with chip-n-seal. The due east path along the Sippo changes to northbound
you reach Massillon and turn north on the towpath. The northward track continues through
Canal Fulton, Clinton, Barberton and Akron.
After a little urban and industrial landscape, the towpath disappears into the heart of the
Cuyahoga Valley National Park for about 20 miles or so, the route finally 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
through during the towpath's busiest time -- a perfect weather weekend. Trail users can come out
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.
Towpath Bridge in Independence, OH
At Rockside Road in Independence, OH, the trail enters the Cleveland
jurisdiction and the trail surface turns from towpath to asphalt for the rest of the journey.
over-street bridges here (one pictured above) allow riders to avoid a couple of busier
The OTE soon comes to Harvard Road, about 5 miles from its eventual terminus. Though the
ends here, a .7-mile road ride will get you to completed trail at Steelyard Commons. From
that point another .3-mile road ride is required to bridge up to the Centennial Lake Link Trail.
At the current end of the Lake Link Trail, 2 short trail gaps prevent riders from reaching the
lakeshore. And another small gap to the west prevents riders from connecting to a newly
segment of the Lakefront Trail and a trail
connection to Edgewater Park.
Completion of the Cleveland-area connections is at least a year away (2020), if not longer. As
the other remaining large gaps along the OTE, there is a 8-mile gap in Holmes County, along with
17-mile gap in Wayne County which are not expected to be closed anytime soon.
So keep in mind if you're considering riding the entire route, that you will have some road
added to the mix!