The trail navigates through charm-
ing, historic towns such as London and
Mount Vernon, and traverses pictur-
esque areas where Amish buggies can be
seen rolling alongside bikers and hikers.
Linking the “3C” cities—Cleveland,
Columbus and Cincinnati—the Ohio to
Erie also allows users to travel between
Ohio’s rural areas and the state’s major
metros, which are now undergoing a
remarkable revitalization.
Built on hundreds of miles of
reclaimed rail-trails and canal towpaths,
the Ohio to Erie Trail was conceived
more than two decades ago as a focal
point for recreation opportunities. Yet
the benefits have proved much broader.
Today, the trail is known for spurring
economic development, attracting tour-
ists and providing a valuable amenity to
The late Ed Honton, an avid
Columbus cyclist considered the trail’s
visionary, would no doubt be delighted.
From Cincinnati to Cleveland, the grad-
ual, mile-by-mile progress of the Ohio to
Erie Trail is building a statewide network
that is revitalizing communities big and
Wealth of Connections
What was once a nice city or local
project now becomes a project of much
broader importance, because of the
wealth of connections and the potential
of these connections,” says Eric Oberg,
manager of trail development with
the Midwest office of Rails to Trails
Conservancy, which has helped local
communities complete the trail.
For instance, on a short, 0.6-mile
stretch of trail now under construction
in Cleveland’s Flats—the historic birth-
place of the city—the once-decimated
Cuyahoga River is slowly coming back
to life, with blue herons roosting on the
riverbanks where new fish habitat is being
created. Nearby, $275 million is being
invested in redeveloping the Flats East
Bank commercial district to incorporate
offices, housing, parkland and entertain-
ment venues.
In Columbus, the Camp Chase rail-
with-trail is taking shape along a historic
railroad line. Once the trail bridges the
formidable Interstate Highway 270, users
will be able to travel off-road for the first
time from Columbus to scenic villages
farther south, creating more opportuni-
ties for tourism in Ohio’s small towns as
well as the state capital.
The value of rail-trails in the heart of
Columbus is already well established.
The Olentangy Trail north of downtown
draws thousands of joggers, walkers and
bike commuters each workday, foster-
ing a morning and evening “rush hour.”
Increasingly, communities along the trail
are considered desirable locations, a trend
that has encouraged fresh investment in
the core city.
The Ohio to Erie Trail’s big impact
has impressed Jerry Rampelt, executive
director of the Ohio to Erie Trail Fund,
Trails radiate from Xenia like sunbeams,
including the Little Miami Scenic Trail,
Creekside Trail and the Prairie Grass Trail.
Surfn Cycle and, above, Xenia Station, are
well-known stopping points in this hub for
trail users. Below, participants in the Earth
Day Challenge walk on the Kokosing Gap Trail
outside Mount Vernon.
At left, a runner and her faithful companion
stride out on Scioto Trail at North Bank Park,