Hiking in Ohio- 2010

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We arrived in Ohio on 5/2 and are staying at Sunny's Campground in Wauseon.  It's a huge place with mostly seasonal trailers.  They must be "weekend warriors" because there's nobody here during the week. There aren't many campgrounds in the area so we will be staying here for a few days and driving to the trail heads.Campground
Trail start Judy started by biking south the first section at the spot where she had started  in 2008 going north.  The first 8 miles was on roads.  Wabash Cannonball In Wauseon she connected with the Wabash Cannonball TrailTrail signIt is cinders in some areas, paved in some, and mud puddles in others.
logoOn the third day of the trail she hiked through Oak Openings Preserve, one of Toledo's Metro Parks.  It's a really nice park with over 50 miles of trails. trail It's been very wet in this area and the trail was under water.  She tried hiking around the wet area but slipped and got her feet wet in the swamp. After leaving the park she had a short one mile section through the Maumee State Forest on a service road.  Easy, right?  No, the area had a network of grass roads with blazing like we saw in Canada.  Put the blaze in the middle of the fork and don't indicate which is the correct path.  Well, she walked about three miles in a circle and ended up back at the beginning.  The second time around she found the correct path.  Once she was back on the Wabash rail trail she switched to the bike and had a flat tire.  Not a good day!!!
logobarnWhile in the area we visited Sauder Village.  You may recognize the name.  They are a big manufacturer of furniture.  We actually went there twice just to eat at their restaurant.  It's a 1861 barn that was moved 2 miles and converted to a restaurant in 1974.  It has a home style buffet that I went off my diet for.  Judy was good and stuck to hers and had soup and salad.
BTThe North Country Trail in Ohio follows the Buckeye Trail when ever possible.  The Buckeye Trail (BT) travels around the entire state in a big circle.  The North Country Trail (NCT) for some unknown reason has chosen to follow the BT down the western side, across the southern side and back up the east side of the state rather than just following the northern portion of the trail directly to Pennsylvania.
The good? thing about this it that the trail follows what is left of the Miami-Erie Canal from Toledo to Cincinnati.  Of its original 250 miles only 75 are still state owned and available for use. ditch Sometimes all that remains is a ditch in someone's yard.
canal The longest is a 40 mile section of hiking trail from Delphos to Fort Loramie.  It starts out in back yards and travels along the edge between the canal and fields.canal
New BremenNew BremenThe canal was the reason some of the adjoining towns came into existence and they now have created historical displays to preserve and inform.  Some are quite elaborate and impressive. New Bremen has reconstructed the lock and lockmaster's house in a beautiful park that is the centerpiece of downtown.
Saint MarysSaint MarysSaint Marys has torn down buildings that were built over the canal and reconstructed the waterway under the street and have a included a canal boat and the mule that Judy is standing next to.  You can see, however, that the canal dead ends behind the boat where it was filled in for another street.
tunnelIn between the towns the trail follows what is left of the canal when possible.  In areas where it has lost out to progress there are either road walks or innovative ideas like a culvert tunnel where a divided highway has cut it's path.
viaductSome of the other structures besides locks have been also preserved.  A aqueduct is a bridge to allow the canal to cross over an object like the creek in this picture.  The canal travels from left to right above the creek that is the water seen here under the canal.  This one also has a weir that regulates the level of water in the canal forming the waterfall.
damSometimes lakes were constructed to supply water to keep the canal full.

 LMST map

LMSTOnce she reached Piqua, Judy decided to alter her route from the Buckeye Trail route and go straight to Urbana and connect with the Simon Kenton Trail.  This connects with the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Springfield and on south to Milford.  The detour would allow her to utilize the entire portion of the LMRST that is certified by the NCT without backtracking.
The  Little Miami Scenic Trail is approx. 80 miles from Springfield to Milford.  It's all paved and relatively level.  She was able to do this in 4 days. From Milford to the East Fork State Park it's road again. 
East Fork East Fork State Park is one of the largest Ohio State Parks with 4,870 acres.  The land is leased from the Corps. of Engineers who own it along with the 2,000 acre William H. Harsha Lake it ajoins.
We were not at all impressed with the park.  The trails were for the most part horrible.  Either they were overgrown and poorly marked or they were a well traveled horse trail with mud and manure to prove it.  The blazes, if you could find them, must have been painted many years ago and not maintained.
The campground wasn't much better.  It's huge (416 sites) and poorly maintained.  The bath houses are in need of repair and although they were cleaned once a day they were always wet because of no ventilation.  The electric would go off several times a day and there is no water at the sites.  In spite of this the campground was full for the Memorial weekend.  Since this is the only camping available on the eastern side of Cincinnati maybe this would be a good opportunity for someone to build one.
After a few bad days of hiking in the park it's approx. 50 miles of road again to the Shawnee State Forest.
Shawnee State Forest, also called "The Little Smokies of Ohio," has developed into the largest of the 20 state forests, with over 60,000 acres. 
On 5/31 we moved to Lazy Village Campground in Portsmouth, Ohio (number 6 on the map).  It was a racetrack in the 60's that has been converted into a campground and is under new management.  It's a clean friendly spot to stay for a week.
The trail in the Shawnee State Forest is worse that in East Fork.  Judy has decided to bypass it and use the roads to hopefully find some hikeable trail further along.  She passed a house whose owner must really like Stroh's Beer.  Serpent MoundThe trail does go through the Serpent Mound park.
The Great Serpent Mound of southwest Ohio averages about 1330 feet in length and 3 feet in height. Representing an unwinding serpent, the mound is sheathed in mystery and controversy. The serpent is thought by most to be about to swallow an egg. However many theories abound suggesting various interpretations. For instance some think it may represent an eclipse.

The mysteries don’t stop there. The very ground where the mound rests is also of interest to archeology. Seemingly full of cave-like or hollow structures, it is thought that perhaps there may be more to this serpent resting underground.

Conical mounds found nearby contained burials and implements that are characteristic of the prehistoric Adena people (800 BC-AD 100). Due to very acidic soil and predominant rainfall, many cave like structures reside underground. It is presumed that the Adena people may have resided in the caves. If true, there could be a treasure trove of artifacts waiting to be discovered.
Serpent Moundmural
riverWhen we first arrived at Portsmouth the campground manager told us to definitely go see the 'murals'.  We had no idea what she was talking about.  Finally on our last day, after lunch we followed the signs and visited the 'murals'.  Wow! They are huge, over 2000' long covering the entire floodwall.  On the right side of the picture you can see a scaffold where the artist is working on it.  He started in 1993.
bridge One of the do-able hiking sections is Fort Hill State Memorial. I dropped her off and drove to the other end in the park.  I then hiked in from that end to meet her.  After about 3/4 of a mile I tried calling on the radio but got no answer.  I decided to turn around and walk slowly and let her catch up.  The next thing I hear was her calling me asking where I was.  She had made a wrong turn and walked around the other side of the park and was waiting at the car.
  campground On 6/7 we moved to the Top o' the Caves Campground  (#7 on the map).  We got ahead of ourselves and had to drive back 64 miles the next day for biking but will soon catch up.  Tourism is really down in this area.  We just about have the campground to ourselves. 
Judy is again bypassing trail sections and using the roads.  This is a trail access point?  There is barbed wire across the trail opening, a 'no trespassing' sign and no visible trail.  She has been reading the trail journals of three other through hikers and none have used the trail.  Why have it if it's not maintained? 
bridge outIn one area of the road section between Fort Hill and Hocking Hills there was a bridge under construction and the road was closed.  I talked to the workers and asked if she could go across rather than doing a 14 mile detour.  They sure saved her from a lot of extra miles!!
Hocking HillsThe trails in the Hocking Hills State Park are really nice.  They are are more developed and maintained and get a lot of use.  There are numerous bridges and tunnels  in the gorges and lots of steps. The caves and waterfalls attract a lot of tourists.
  Click here for a slide show.
trailmudThe area after the tourist section is another story. It's a bridle trail that is muddy, full of horse manure, overgrown and has blow-downs that have been there for years.  The mud was over her shoes and she almost lost them or fell in several places.  The downed trees had been there long enough that the horses had made new trails but since there were no blazes she couldn't follow them and had to climb through them. In other areas the thorn bushes were overgrown the trail tearing skin and clothes.  I guess horses don't mind them?
Burr Oak
Burr Oak campgroundBurr Oak TrailOn 6/14 we moved to the campground at Burr Oak State Park .(#8 on the map).  They recently added electric to 17 sites here but still no water.  What's up with that??  Don't people in Ohio use water?  The sites are also small and tight to get into and the dump station is a back in.  Not too good of planning there.
The trails are, however, in good shape.  Thirteen miles of good hiking and then back on the road for over 50 miles to Marietta.

JerryWe stayed in Marietta at the county fairgrounds(#9 on the map). . It wasn't a resort by any means, a large paved parking lot with posts with hookups around the outer edge.  It was cheap enough, $20/night for water, sewer, and 50 amp.  Jerry Groebe arrived from Michigan to spend a week hiking so Judy had someone to talk to.

Steam BoatWhile in Marietta we visited a couple of museums run by the Ohio Historical Society.  We had visited the Ohio River Museum over 25 years ago while vacationing on our boat. It has an extensive collection of steamboat memorabilia including the whistles shown in the picture.  The paddle wheeler W. P. Snyder, Jr. was in drydock for extensive renovations, a new bottom, and was not on display.
museumWe also visited the Campus Martius, the Museum of the Northwest Territory, a block away.  This is a great little museum with a lot of interesting displays about early Ohio history.  We even got a private tour of the restored Rufus Putnam house, built in 1788 as part of the first organized American settlement in the Northwest Territory.  The museum was actually built around it.  It contains much of the original contents including a corner cabinet which was the first piece of furniture made in Ohio.
Muskingum RiverHotelWe walked the trail across the bridge over the Muskingum River, through downtown Marietta, and ate lunch at the historic Lafayette Hotel.   One of the last riverboat-era hotels, the Lafayette opened on July 1, 1918, and was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, who visited the city in 1825 at a site near the hotel. He has since been regarded as Marietta's first tourist.
trail??? Covered bridgeSince the trail had been so bad, we decided to scout it out ahead of having her run into problems and have to back track.  We drove to the trail in the Wayne National Forest.  We were only able to find two blazes which may have been NCT blazes.  We could not find where the trail went off road at all.  We did find one of the trail crossings by GPS.  As you can see in the picture it was totally overgrown with no evidence of a "trail".  If you look closely you can see a sign that says the trail is closed during hunting season but nothing identifying it as NCT.  Rather than wandering around in the woods, she decided to just do the roads through this area.  One good thing is that there are many covered bridges to see.  We moved to Cambridge, Oh (#10 on the map)  and stayed at Spring Valley Campground.
Salt ForkSalt Fork 2The trail in Salt Fork State Park was mowed and easily followed.  The mosquitoes were bad but once the hikers were back on the road they were gone. 
Amish wagonViewThe route we chose took them across a ridge with fabulous views.  It was also Amish country and Judy said it was some of the best hiking in Ohio.  They passed by several farms, a blacksmith shop, and two sawmills.  The church and cemetery in the picture is the burial place of the famous baseball player Cy Young. Cy YoungThe farm where he grew up is nearby.  
We chose this route after reading the trail journals of other thru hikers and found that nothing has changed for the last 10 years.  They complained about the hikeable sections of the trail being poorly then and it hasn't improved any since.  We even read an article by one of the trail maintainers saying that he didn't see why everyone was complaining.  His section did have 3 or 4 blow downs but he had no trouble crawling thru them.  I guess if you are only hiking 2 miles a day that may not be a problem for him but a long distance hiker with a large pack would find this totally unacceptable.  Getting lost because of poor blazing is also a problem.  "But everyone knows the trail goes that way" doesn't work if you've never been there before.  


The Gnadenhutten massacre, also known as the Moravian massacre, was the killing on March 8, 1782, of ninety-six Christian Lenape (Delaware) by colonial American militia from Pennsylvania during the American Revolutionary War. The incident took place at the Moravian missionary village of Gnadenhütten, Ohio, near present-day Gnadenhutten. The site of the village was preserved. A reconstructed cabin and cooper's house were built there, and a monument to the dead was erected.  Judy is standing next to their burial mound.                 
WildsWilds 2Wilds logoAfter Jerry left, Judy wanted a day off so were visited a place called "The Wilds".  The Wilds is one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world. Located on nearly 10,000 acres in southeast Ohio, it is home to rare and endangered species from around the world living in natural, open-range habitat.cow  We opted for the air conditioned tour bus rather than the open air since it was 95 degrees that day!!!
Tall TimberTall TimberOn 6/28 we moved to Wood's Tall Timber Lake Resort(#11 on the map) in New Philadelphia.  We tried to reserve a week but because of the 4th of July they were booked for the weekend.  We stayed 4 days and it cost just a few dollars less than their weekly rate.  The sites are on a hillside around the lake and are laid out strangely.  When I asked about it being a pull-thru they said it was a pull-in.  When I got there it was indeed a pull-in.  Another camper was directly in front of us, about 6 feet that is!  When we left we had to back out. 
SchoenbrunnSchoenbrunn VillageSchoenbrunn Village was founded in 1772 by a group of Moravian missionaries and Indian converts from Pennsylvania, and was the first white settlement in what is now Ohio. The War for Independence spelled the end of the prospering little community of 60 cabins, church, school, and cemetery. The Moravians had renounced war and refused to bear arms for either side; as a result, they suffered raids from both sides. Reverend David Zeisberger, the leader, decided in 1777 to abandon Schoenbrunn and concentrate all the Ohio missions elsewhere. Members of the Moravian Church relocated the forgotten village in the present century by means of a map preserved by the mother church at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society acquired the site in 1923 and soon reconstructed a number of buildings on their original sites.
ZoarThe trail goes right thru  Zoar Village. Zoar was founded by German religious dissenters called the Society of Separatists of Zoar in 1817. It was a communal society, with many German-style structures that have been restored and are part of the Zoar Village State Memorial. There are presently ten restored buildings.  Volunteers give the guided tours and maintain the extensive gardens. 
Beaver Creek
The trail makes a loop thru Beaver Creek State Park..  The park is 2700 acres and has an 1830 grist mill and a reconstructed pioneer village.  The buildings are leased from the state and operated by The Friends of Beaver Creek SPClick here for a slide show of the village   

PennsylvaniatrailJudy reached the Pennsylvania border on 7/4.  She was really glad to be finished with Ohio.  Why they took the trail through southern Ohio is anyone's guess.  With the high percentage of road walks and the poor condition of what trails there are,  the trail should go the shorter route via northern Ohio.  When she reached the border there were trail signs and even a trail journal.  I walked into the trail in Pennsylvania and took this picture.  This is what a trail should look like!!!
Now she only has 257 miles in New York left to finish the entire North Country Trail.  After 2 months and almost 900 miles she needs a break.  We're headed  to western New York to do a little biking and touristing along the Erie Canal. 

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