GREENE COUNTY — My June 12 bicycle ride on the Ohio-to-Erie Trail was a pleasant surprise for me. I’ve covered a few Cedarville High School sporting events in the past, and the drive to Cedarville just feels like it takes forever, and so I prepared myself for a similar excursion … only on a bicycle.
I set off from Xenia Station for what appeared to be a 15.8-mile round trip trek northward to Cedarville.
… and I imediately got lost!
Xenia Station is the central hub for five paved trails. Located off Washington Street, just west of Detroit Street and south of downtown, the Station serves as a hub for the Ohio-to-Erie Trail (a stretch also known as the Prairie Grass Trail), Little Miami Trail, Creekside Trail and the Xenia-to-Jamestown Connector Trail. The sidewalks and imediate trails that leave Xenia Station are well marked, and the painted markings on the paths help riders start off on the right route.
And maybe it’s marked and I just didn’t see it, but the Ohio-to-Erie Trail dumps off into Detroit Street and then ….? I was lost. Thankfully, my phone’s GPS (set up for bike travel), led me up Third St. to a Sims Street Spur, which put me on the proper bike path just a quarter mile or so further up the trail.
For future reference, if you go onto Hill Street (almost directly east of Xenia Station), you’ll see the entrance to the Ohio-to-Erie Trail on your left.
Almost instantly, the hustle and bustle of the city streets just disappears! It’s just you and a few gazillion singing birds, a chipmunk or two, rabbits, geese, squirrels, and even a deer. Since I’ve started riding on the area bike trails (five trips on Miami Valley area trails and counting), the Xenia to Cedarville route has been the most tranquil for me so far.
Lined with lush green foliage, the path just feels as if you’ve somehow jumped into another time. One where cars hardly exist, and farmland and foliage is abundant. It’s quiet, very scenic and it just felt good for the soul. It was also a good windbreak from the flat plots of farmland on either side of the trail.
The Greene County Parks & Trails website (gcparkstrails.com) talks of a gradual 3-mile ascent that begins at Columbus Street and continues until you’re out near Wilberforce, but it’s very gradual and hardly even noticeable, at least it wasn’t for me. I think the scenery and the huge panther probably helped me not to notice the climb.
Okay, the road was shimmering from the heat. The view was distorted a bit. So it was either a fierce man-eating panther, or a black farm cat. You decide. Whichever it was, it was obviously intimidated by my manly bicycling helmet and scurried off as I approached.
(I’m going with fierce legendary Panther of Wilberforce.)
Nearly seven miles into the ride, you’ll see a pair of wooden overlooks built onto either side of the bike path. I later learned that the overlooks are for the scenic Clifton Gorge area. All I saw was plenty of tree foliage everywhere. For all the leaves and branches and such, you couldn’t see the ground below.
Just as you enter Cedarville, just around the corner from the Community Library and the Welcome Center, there’s a pair of old cabooses sitting off to the side all rusted and nearly forgotten. It made me smile, because the bike path had originally been part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s main line from New York City to St. Louis.
My phone navigator app dropped me off at Cedarville University’s parking lot, but I knew of the Mom & Dad’s Dairy Bar & Grill, and so I continued further north to what turned out to be a wonderful dairy oasis in the heat. A Praline-flavored milkshake later, and I made my way back to Xenia Station.
Today, the path is part of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail, which can take you from the Cincinnati area all the way into Cleveland, an estimated 326 miles in all. The ohiotoerietrail.org website estimates that it can take 4-7 days to travel the entire trail. They naturally haven’t seen how fast I can go. (Add another week, maybe two.)
Maybe someday I’ll ride the entire trail. But for now, I have plenty to enjoy on the Greene County area trails.
NEXT WEEK: The Creekside Trail, from Xenia Station to the Greene County-Montgomery County border, and back.