also saw an uptick in foot and bicycle
traffic to its downtown after the trail
segment there was fully opened in
Friends of Madison County Parks and
Trails (FMCPT) created a road route
through downtown London after the rail-
trail through Madison County had been
completed. They chose the road route
because the railroad company declined to
grant an easement through the town, not
yet comfortable with rail-with-trail devel-
opment. Thanks to good signage, the
road route has not only helped trail users
get through London, but also encouraged
them to shop at local businesses.
When the Great Ohio Bicycling
Adventure stopped here in 2011, the
group stayed two days in the London
area,” says Wayne Roberts of FMCPT.
Some of the local restaurants were
delighted. They couldn’t believe it when
the town was inundated with thousands
of bike riders.”
FMCPT cites as many as 40,000 peo-
ple using the trail segment over the course
of a year. Roberts believes that when the
Camp Chase Rail-Trail improves the
linkage between London and downtown
Columbus, the numbers will rise even
To that end, the Columbus and
Franklin County Metro Parks is work-
ing on plans to finish the Camp Chase
rail-with-trail segment into downtown
Columbus. To carry the trail across I-270,
the agency must build and install a pre-
fabricated bridge just south of the Camp
Chase railroad bridge.
The bridge and the downtown leg of
the trail represent “one of the biggest chal-
lenges of the whole project,” says Steve
Brown, chief landscape architect with
Columbus and Franklin County Metro
Parks. The project requires building a
retaining wall on a side slope with a two-
to-one angle to create the 12-foot-wide
trail. “You’re working in a confined space,
so it’s a tricky construction project.”
When it’s complete next year, the trail
between Columbus and points farther
south will serve bike commuters as well as
many families that prefer off-road cycling,
Brown says. “When you’ve got families
and kids involved, the number one thing
is, ‘How do I bike safely from where I
live and get on the trail?’ There’s been
demand for this trail for a long time.”
Piece by Piece
The scenery in Knox County, 55 miles
north of Columbus, is among the most
beautiful in Ohio, with sparkling rivers,
deep gorges and towering hemlocks fram-
ing the landscape. Small towns including
Mt. Vernon, the county seat, were built
along the railroad lines here more than
a century ago. However, as the railroad
companies quit the lines over the past
few decades, these rail corridors began
to return to wilderness, with bridges
decaying and saplings growing up on the
ballast. “Railroads had a great impact on
small villages and hamlets on the railroad
line, and when they left, there was a nega-
tive impact,” says Knox County Parks
Commissioner Kim Marshall.
Yet today the rail lines in Knox
County are being turned into the Heart
of Ohio Trail, connecting Mount Vernon
to Centerburg, at the geographic center
of Ohio. “Now, with reusing those rail-
road beds, we have an opportunity to
provide services,” says Marshall. “They
used to be called railroad towns, but now
they’re trail towns.”
Applying funding from the federal
Transportation Alternatives Program
The Rogers family,
Tim, Timmy
and Sam, play
amongst the
trailside sculpture
that welcomes
cyclists on the
Ohio to Erie Trail
into the city of